Tuesday, August 4

Beyond Teklanika

For the last five days we've been staying at the Teklanika River Campround in Denali's backcountry. This campground is the farthest you can drive your private vehicle into the park and once here you must park your vehicle for the duration of your stay and use the Park's shuttle bus like everyone else. The advantage in staying here (beside avoiding the crowds around the park entrance) is it shortens your shuttle bus rides because you are already 30 miles inside the park - which after you are here for a few days, you realize, is a big deal.

On our way to Teklanika
Our campsite

As you might imagine, being in Denali's backcountry means no cell phone or Internet service so this post will try to recap the last few days.

Bussing It! Everyone moves via bus (unless you walk or peddle) in Denali. The park only has one gravel road (90 miles long) and it can take upwards of 7 hours to travel its length - so riding the bus is part of the experience. The reason it usually takes so long to travel those 90 miles - it stops whenever wildlife is spotted so people can take pictures, it stops for wildlife blocking/crossing the road (even birds)and it stops so people can get off (and on) to hike. The shuttle busses travel just over a million miles total in a typical 4 month season on that 90 mile road.

A few twists and turns while going up and down
A no passing zone
The road goes on and on
The busses share the road and animals always have the right of way


Hiking It! We've been doing our fair share of hiking - some easy, some hard, some short, some long, both guided and on our own. We've done one Discovery Hike so far (hopefully another before we leave) - these are off-trail hikes with a park ranger that, as the name implies, lets you discover the park most visitors don't venture into.

Looks nice and easy from the road
Our destination is that little green hill on the far left of this photo
Actual hiking conditions, on the tundra - rocky, wet, brush - not an easy walk in the park
Looks easy, but it was hard work
When we got back to the road this Caribou was ten feet away on his commute


Digging It! The day after our "Disco Hike" while Don was on a long bus ride (I needed a bus-free day) I ventured out on a solo off-tral hike.

The bluff down at the river bend looked interesting
Now for a little climb
Nice view
Then a surprise - I find an Archaeology dig in progress, had a nice visit
Snack time


Seeing It! Everyone that visits Denali wants to see THE MOUNTAIN (Mt. McKinley - Denali, two names for the same mountain) at 20,300 the tallest peak in North America. Unfortunately only about 30% of the park's visitors actually do, a greater percentage (57% this year) of those that attempted to climb the mountain were successful - so seeing IT turns out to be a very big deal. The good news, we did (see it)!

First glimpse
Quilt at the Eielson Visitor Center


The usual bonus pics:




  1. Does Don have phone service? Trying to call him about something.

  2. Did you see more bears than the one in the photo?