Taking Photos of Cloud at Denali National Park

Please note, this post is part of a series. Click here to read it from the beginning.

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They say that of all the people who visit Denali National Park, only 30% get to see Mt McKinley/Denali Mountain clearly. I would have been happy just to see 30% of the mountain.

For most of my trip I’d been blessed with great weather, so I have no right to complain that when we turned up in Denali it closely resembled a Scottish summer. It rained/drizzled constantly, and the clouds hung so low that sometimes we were above them. For the entire 2 days we were there.

After the chilled pace of life at Wrangell St Elias, it was a shock to suddenly be in a national park full of tourists. You can only drive your own vehicle 15 miles into the park, which when you look at the size of the whole park is nothing. Shuttle buses will take you between certain points of interest, and you are able to jump on and off buses should you want to do some hiking. We took the bus 66 miles up to Eielson Visitor Center (4 hours each way) where apparently you can see Mt McKinley/Denali from. I can’t confirm that, however, because all we could see was cloud. Even the mountains in front of the highest mountain in North America weren’t visible.

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Our 8 hours sat on a bus were not completely a waste of time, though, because we saw some amazing wildlife. I only had caribou and brown bears to cross off my list by this point, so I was chuffed that our driver spotted some caribou right at the start of our journey. Then, as we rounded a corner, a brown bear ran right out in front of us and narrowly missed a collision with our bus. Our driver, Jose, was brilliant. Bus drivers are not obliged to stop for photos or provide any commentary, but Jose did both exceptionally. Concerned that the bear might be being chased, he stopped the bus immediately and cut the engine. When no other animals appeared, he explained it was probably a young male who was weaning. Bear cubs stay with their mothers until they are 4 years old, then she has to chase them away to teach them to fend for themselves.

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We also saw lots more caribou that day, and some moose. On the way out of the park, I picked up a newspaper to see what Denali actually looks like.

Hello from Rainy Denali

Wow! I’ve done soooo much since I last posted. We’ve been making our way across Alaska, where most of our stops have limited internet access hence me not posting. It’s taken me a whole day and over 5 attempts to upload these photos!

We left Valdez and headed into Wrangell St Elias national park, probably everyone’s favourite place on the trip. We stayed in a town called McCarthy (year-round population 25-40, depending on who you ask). It is such a cool place, and I think we are really privileged to have stayed there because not many people get to.

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I joined in with the weekly softball game (by the way, I was the only person from my group who played)…

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Whilst in the national park, I did an amazing glacier walk on crampons…

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I went on a tour of the copper mill in Kennecott…

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And I also took a flightseeing tour so I could see the glaciers and icefield from above…

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Unfortunately, once we arrived in Denali national park the good weather I’ve had for the past three weeks left and we haven’t been able to see much. I was hoping to at least see part of Mt McKinley/Denali, but even the mountains in front of it weren’t visible.

DSC_0321 DSC_0325Our eight hours sat on the bus through Denali national park weren’t completely wasted, though. We saw a brown bear, caribou and more moose. So, even though I didn’t get to see the mountain, I’ve ticked off my list all the wildlife that I wanted to.

We’re driving back to Anchorage tomorrow, then I have to fly back to the UK on the weekend 😦 I’ve  got lots more photos to share with you all, so keep checking in for further posts.