Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 231/232 - Fairbanks - Denali National Park/Denali National Park

Distance travelled (by bike): 33,680

From fairbanks i took the long road. Having spoken to Justin yesterday he suggested that i take the Denali highway across to the park. Backtracking from Fairbanks to Delta Junction then south to Paxson. From Paxon the Denali highway starts, closed in the winter, 80% of the road is unpaved, cutting through the mountains across to denial National Park. 
Most people using the road seemed to be hunters, i passed about 4 trucks with antlers strapped to the top and lots of people driving dune buggies with shotguns and rifles strapped to the back, all hunting moose or caribou.
When the sun shone the drive was fantastic, when it rained not so much, and having just switched from mostly offroad tyres to street tyres i struggled in parts.
Arriving at Denali the wind was howling through the valley making it feel like it should be freezing. 
You can't drive your vehicle in Denali, you have to catch a parks bus to access the park. With only one road you can't go to far wrong, the road stretches for 90(ish) miles into the park and is mostly gravel and in some part a single lane. 
Setting out on the bus at 7am the cloud was still low, however by 9 it had disappeared and the sun was shinning. The best weather i have had in Alaska. With someone else driving and explaining what happening where and why i could sit back and enjoy the scenery.
To say it was dramatic would be an understatement, the park is 6 million acres, 2 million designated as wilderness, unlike most other parks there is no human impact or intervention in the landscape or the animals, if the animals are weak they either make it or die.
Great day, but long day, 11 hours! But really lucky to have seen bears, moose, caribou, eagles, sheep and a quick glance of a wolf.

looking ahead along the Denali Highway

entering Denali park

 Mount McKinley/Denalidepends on who you talk to

grizzly bear

Dall sheep


juvenile moose

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