8/28/2007 (Journaled 7/30/2013)
Day three brought us into the heart of Denali. Absolutely incredible! We woke up early to make the most of the day. And what a beautiful morning it was!
Today we traveled the Denali National Park Road. The road is closed to private vehicles past the 15 mile mark to help preserve the wilderness, so the choices are to either take a free shuttle bus (old green school buses) or take a “tour” on a nicer bus with a guide for a lot more $$$. The advantage to the shuttle buses are that you may get on and off whenever you want, anywhere along the 91 mile long road. All you need to do is hop on another bus and keep going as far as you want. The road is incredible – they made such a smart decision to limit traffic. You get the peace of the wilderness, as do the animals. The shuttle bus drivers, while not tour guides, do tend to talk along the way and share their knowledge of this great place. They also stop at all the popular photo op stops, as well as when anyone sees wildlife.
I was worried that my son might get bored on such a long trip (we were on the bus for probably 8 hours total), but it did not happen. The views and especially the wildlife kept him quite interested. On this trip, we pretty much got to see all of the checklist of animals you would hope to see. While some were at quite a distance, like the sheep, we still got to have fun checking them out. You can see the sheep and a big blonde brown bear with cubs in these pics (you will have click on them and zoom in a lot as I did not have a telephoto back then).
Along the way, we got some pretty classic photos of the park and the Mountain:
In that last picture, you can see a little turnaround along the road before it starts climbing the road again. That is the Fish Creek turnaround and was where we spent much of the day hiking and admiring the views. This picture also shows one my my biggest regrets from any vacation (still haunting me 6 years later!): not knowing what is over that hill the road disappears over. I must go back and find out!
Hayden and I hiked around that general area for a couple hours and enjoyed lunch there as well. We also took our share of pictures before hopping on a bus going back towards the park entrance.
We hopped on and off the buses a couple more times on our trip out, stopping to take pictures and check out the visitor centers.
Here are a couple cute photos of Hayden from near the end of our journey. He had seen moose on the side of the road and was letting the vehicle behind us know:
We made it back near dark, tired yet thrilled. Some more shots from that great day: