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Back at Denali National Park, we have reached the end of the only road that leads into this 6.0 million acre park. At 20 miles an hour with frequent stops, it takes more than five hours but with the blessing of clear weather, we not only get a rare view of Mt. Denali, we also see bear and caribou.
At the end of the road, we find ourselves in Kantishna and a lodge run by one the Alaskan Indian corporations. Two nights there breaks up the scenic drives in and out of the park and gives us time to hike a variety of trails and to explore nearby Wonder Lake.
As you can see below, the accommodations are more modern than the outbuilding above would suggest. The structure above is from the early 1900s.
The weather was overcast and cool for a hike near Wonder Lake the next morning. There were caribou near the lake and birds on and around the water. And, there was quiet. No traffic noise. No jet trails in the sky. The only sounds came from the wildlife and other travelers. The later were few in number.
Wonder Lake is sometimes called the Crown Jewel of Denali National Park. It is a kettle lake, or one formed by a glacier when it receded. It is large by kettle lake standards, though, reaching depths of up to 250 feet with a length of three miles.
Our stay in Kantishna gave us a second chance to see the Northern Lights, though few witnessed it. It was cold and windy that night and the lights were not expected until long after midnight. The next morning's right back along only Park road was leaving before sunrise and it would provide its own stunning sky views.
Here is what greeted us on the ride back. The air was cool and clear as we boarded our bus. A short way up the road and we were riding through a long valley as a the sun rose. The sky turned pink, framing the Denali mountains in a soft glow.
As the sun rose higher in the sky and we made our way further along the gravel Park road, we spied our first bull moose. Their horns were recently shed of their summer fur but still bearing some remnants of the shedding. Look closely below and you will see the last fur trailing off the back of his rack.
When we arrived the two bulls were eyeing one another but staying at a respectful distance. We stayed for awhile to watch their interaction develop. More about this next week.
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Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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