We left Fairbanks on Monday, June 19 for our wilderness adventure in Denali National Park which is about 150 miles south of Fairbanks. We had seen (while we were back in Juneau) on the weather page severe warnings about smoke in Fairbanks from wildfires and as we drove on the Parks Hwy. toward Denali, we saw the burned areas right next to the road. This road was much smoother and we were doing 60mph in some places. We arrived in the Denali area just at lunch time. The parking lot was crowded but we registered easily at the Wilderness Access Center. With out permit, we were allowed to drive on the dirt road to MP 29 and the Teklanika River where our campsite awaited us. We were exhausted and a bit apprehensive about the all-day (9 hours) bus ride which was scheduled the next day from our camp to the waters of Wonder Lake.
We rose early and went to the bus stop just on the road outside of our campground. It was only 7:15AM as the bus pulled up with a couple dozen passengers who had boarded from the Wilderness Access Center an hour before. Our first stop was just a mile down the road where the other passengers who had been on the bus for over an hour were delighted to see the modern restroom facilities provided by the National Parks Service. A rainbow formed in the early morning mist. There were lots of busses from nearby resorts as well as the National Parks Service bus like we were on. Only 10,000 vehicle entrances are allowed each year to this part of the park, so this is not as bad as it could get. Denali National Park was primarily created for the preservation of wildlife. This is unlike the primary reason for other NP park creation which is scenic beauty. The wildlife come first at Denali.
On our exploration, we stopped many times to view the animals from the bus. Most were far off in the distance and it took a good pair of binoculars and a powerful telephoto lens to see and capture these wild creatures on "film." We saw wolves (they were so quick, Tom could not get their picture), ground squirrels and hares (wolf food), Dall sheep, caribou, grizzly bears, moose, a red fox, and the Alaska State Bird, the ptarmigan. The best sighting was of a big blonde female grizzly bear. She was eating the vegetation (grizzlies are primarily vegetable eaters - but will consume meat) and was moving quite quickly from bush to bush. Tom shot over 3 "rolls of film" (100+ digital images) of this 500-pound monster. We lunched at Wonder Lake. If you have seen a picture of Mt. McKinley in a reflecting body of water, you have seen Wonder Lake. We needed our Cutter's mosquito repellant at Wonder Lake where the mosquitos were out in force. The clouds were also out in force, so our view of this highest peak in North America (Mt. McKinley) was obscured.
We were quite tired after this adventure and slept late the next day that was spent just relaxing and watching the frequent rain showers. We met a couple from Indiana who also have a Chinook Concourse (1997). We traded stories and made comparisons of the changes made in the two RV's over the years.