Arctic Adventures: Volume 14—Driving Denali National Park Road

Arctic Adventures: Volume 14—Driving Denali National Park Road

As I explained in past posts, our area is not experiencing the same flood of tourists we would normally have. 

Denali National Park would normally have multiple tour and camper buses running on their out-and-back 92-mile road that parallels the Alaska Range through low valleys and high mountain passes. But, with cruises and related land tours cancelled, limited tour, transit and camper buses will run with an truncated schedule, and not until July 1. And the Park Road will only be open to mile 66, the Eielson Visitor Center, leaving the remaining 26 miles pretty much untouchable this summer. 

Per typical summer operations, private vehicles have access through Mile 15 at the Savage River Check Station, but the park is doing something unique in the month of June. Individuals can also apply for special permits to drive further back to Mile 30, the Teklanika Rest Stop.

In May, the park allowed private vehicles to drive back to Mile 30, without acquiring a permit, so we took weekly drives and watched the landscape change before our eyes. 

On May 11, there was still plenty of snow, especially as we gained elevation in the park. 

5/11: The Teklanika River was still pretty icy!
Even at the lower elevation at Savage, there was still a lot of patches of snow.

On May 17, the snow cover on the ground was melting and Denali was out!! 

There she is … with NO climbers this year.
5/17: Savage River flowing free.

May 30 was WARM. There are a few wildflowers popping up in the park, but nothing worthy of pictures yet and still some time for those to grow. 

I love the Savage River loop.

And of course, the wildlife has been abundant. We’ve seen more moose in our neighborhood than in the park, but the grizzlies and caribou have been sticking to the park boundaries it seems. 

Caribou on the horizon.
There are 2 tiny blondies (grizzly bears) out there …

We hope to get out again in the park to go backpacking at some point, and hopefully by that time I will have purchased a (used) zoom lens to up my wildlife and mountain photography so you can see more than tiny specks! 

2 responses to “Arctic Adventures: Volume 14—Driving Denali National Park Road”

  1. Misti says:

    That is so cool, y’all! What an opportunity to be able to drive that! I’d be going daily! haha!

    I’m getting really sad that we won’t be able to visit any time soon. Finishing up my AK pictures is making it all the harder to see.

  2. Mom/MIL says:

    This is the silver lining! Great photos and I can’t believe you captured Denali!

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