Alaska, USA • Trip

›› 21 Aug - 05 Sept 2008
We are But Visitors Here

Our Big Adventure in Alaska Plate

A subset of the pictures from the trip. As always, clicking on the picture will open a larger image.

These pictures cover the first stage of the trip. After flying to Anchorage, we picked up our rented RVs, shopped for groceries, and headed north up the George Parks highway to Denali National Park. A black bear crossing the road was our lone black bear sighting on the trip. We arrived at the park late in the day and drove 29 miles in to the campground. The Teklanika campground is the furthest one in that allows RVs.

Saturday we got up early to clear blue skies and caught the bus that would take us further into the park. This is the only way to get around inside the park. We booked our bus reservations months ago. The buses stop for any wildlife photo opportunities and we had quite a few. The bus ride was about eight hours round trip. This included numerous stops but the road conditions keep the buses moving slowly. The road is gravel and sometimes is reduced to one lane with hairpin turns. You never know what is going to be coming around the next corner. The views of Denali (Mt. McKinley) were fabulous. Along the way we saw Dall sheep (sheep dots for the most part), moose, a fox, beavers, caribou and grizzly bears.

Sunday we decided to stay close to camp and take it a bit easier. In the morning we did some hiking in the Teklanika river valley. Sometimes you can hike far out into the river bed and other times the various streams of the river would force you back onto the river bank. In the afternoon, we hiked up to an overlook near the campground. Much of this hiking was not on established trails, where we simply hiked through the forest or open fields. The ground is covered with deep mosses and other plants, so the ground sinks down with every step.

The next day we caught the bus again (no reservation needed this time) and headed to the Polychrome Pass area to do some more hiking. We were fortunate and got to see several grizzlies and caribou along the way. After leaving the bus, we hiked up to a ridge for some great views of Polychrome mountain and the Toklat river valley. We soaked in the enormity of it all as we ate our lunch. After getting back down to the road, we hiked along the road for a few miles before flagging down a bus to get back to the campground.


Alaska Pictures

Denali National Park

This red fox was sleeping at its mound during the bus ride in and was still there on the way back.

Caribou having an early breakfast.

How does a caribou cross the road?

A little closer look at a caribou.

Our first look at the great one.

Denali with a whisp of cloud. The road meanders onward on the far right.

Denali is much higher than most of the mountains in the area.

Notice the fall colours of the foliage.

There were a few beaver ponds along the road. Not so much when the road was single lane on a mountain pass.

Bullwinkle's friend having a bite to eat.

Fine dining.

Fall colours.

We are getting closer but the closest the road gets is still 20 miles from the mountain.

We saw a number of caribou.

There must have been an easy way up from the back side of this ridge.

Two grizzly bear cubs on a hillside.

Momma bear with her clan.

Teklanika river bed near our campground. Teklanika is Athabascan for "much river bed, little river".

Harvey the RV at Teklanika campground. Once you parked you could only move it to leave.

Hiking on the Teklanika river bed.

Arctic Ground Squirrel/Snack food of the tundra.

We camped here for four nights. Note the elevation.

Tek Campground from a ridge.

Another view from the ridge.

Another shot from the ridge looking across the campground and the Tek river valley.

Ridge shot in the other direction. It looked like a short hike until you realize the trees are so small.

Little plants.

Flowering mosses? Hiking on the tundra is like walking on a big sponge.

View from the campground of the ridge we hiked up.

There were lots of Snowshoe hares around the campground.

The setting sun lights up the hillside to the east.

Grizzly out for breakfast. The grizzlies in Denali are smaller because they eat less meat.

This grizzly bear decided to walk right past the bus. Too bad everyone's cameras were set up for telephoto shots.

Grizzly bear butt.

This grizzly bear was on an island in the east Toklat river bed.

View looking west with the road winding onward.

Another western view from the other side of the ridge with some of Polychrome mountain to the right.

Looking across the Toklat river valley. One of those glaciers is the Polychrome glaciers - not sure why it is nowhere near Polychrome mountian.

Three caribou down in the Toklat river valley.

Hiking along we managed to spot this little Pika running around among the rocks.

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