Denali National Park Wows Tourists this Spring
I just returned from escorting a group of seniors for two weeks in glorious Alaska and found Denali National Park continues to wow tourists with abundant wildlife this spring once again. It was unusually dry and temperatures were on the mild side to everyone’s delight. So dry that much of the state is under a extreme forest fire warning. It did make for beautiful sunny days with perfect photo opportunities each day to enjoy.
My first week began with cruising up the coastline on a Holland America. We had brief day stops in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Our day in Ketchikan was typically overcast with drizzle since this area gets the most rain in the region. As soon as we arrived to Juneau, the sun broke out and we headed out whale watching and saw several humpbacks within 50 feet. The next day we were docked in Skagway and immediately boarded the Whitepass tourist train for a three hour tour to the summit and crossed briefly into Canada. A must while in this port.
After our cruise we spent two nights in Alyeska, which is known to skiers for great slopes and to tourist’s great views. This past year was poor for ski lovers but great for tourists looking for nature and spectacular views from top of the gondola overlooking several glaciers in the distance. Nearby is the Portage glacier that sits in a lake of glacial water. We took a short tour by boat that cruised right up to within 100 feet. It felt so close you can almost touch the ice.
Before reaching the Denali National Park we boarded the tourist train for eight hours on yet another bright sunny day. We had stunning views of Mount McKinley (now called Mount Denali) the entire way up and so thankful since only a mere 30% get to view it due to constant inclement weather around the giant mountain.
We spent two nights and one full day in the park and during my seven hour tour was able to see close up dozens of Caribou, Dawll Sheep, several moose, golden eagles and five grizzly bears from a safe distance. This to me was like being on an exotic African safari but much better since besides the abundant wildlife we got to see the view of the mountains and valleys which made for lasting memories.
My trip wound up in the city of Fairbanks where we only had enough time to take a three hour authentic stern-wheeler boat cruise on the Discovery II. We were able to watch a bush pilot demonstration and visit an Athabascan Indian village and learn how for thousands of years Indians survived in very rugged conditions.
This was my forth trip to Alaska and second time to Denali National Park. The warmth and passion of the local Alaskan’s make for an enriching vacation adventure for all ages. I look forward to return again to Denali National Park as each visit seems to bring me back to nature in a special way.