2 Months- Trip Review

Denali National Park Travel Blog

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2 Month Trip Summary: 


We’ve been traveling for two months today and have had such a terrific time! 


We cannot imagine having to leave our dream trip for school right now.  The kids have been diligent with their summer studies, particularly in math and reading.  We’ve gained so much from the local historical novels along the way.


Ciao Baby has been a great rig, very comfortable for us, and requiring less maintenance than we’d feared. 


We’ve seen so many National Parks:

  1. Big Bend, TX
  2. Carlsbad Caverns, NM
  3. Bandelier, NM
  4. Mesa Verde, NM
  5. Grand Canyon, AZ
  6. Zion, UT
  7. Bryce, UT
  8. Capital Reef, UT
  9. Arches, UT
  10. Canyonlands, UT
  11. Rocky Mountain, CO
  12. Grand Teton, WY
  13. Yellowstone, WY
  14. Glacier, MT
  15. Banff NP, Canada
  16. Jasper NP, Canada
  17. Denali, NP

We’ve experienced many great UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  1. Taos de Pueblo
  2. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
  3. Mesa Verde
  4. Canadian Rockies
  5. Carlsbad Caverns
  6. Grand Canyon
  7. Yellowstone
  8. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

and participated in some really special activities:

  • Calgary Stampede
  • Canada Olympic Park
  • Bungee jumping and bike riding in Breckenridge, CO
  • Durango-Silverton Train Ride
  • Inuvik’s Great Northern Arts Festival and 50th Anniversary
  • Driving the Dempster in the Arctic Circle
  • Walked on the Athabascan glacier of the Columbia Icefield
  • Eaten local foods:  huge homemade cinnamon buns, reindeer hotdogs, salmon jerky, Alaska Salmon Bake, sourdough pancakes, and pizza-on-a-stick
  • Rode horseback in Zion National Park
  • Panned for gold
  • Riverboat ride on the Tanana River
  • Athabascan Fish Camp
  • 5 Ferry rides with the RV
  • Family Reunion
  • Swam in icy rivers
  • Dinner in the Historic Old Faithful Dining Room
  • Crossed the border twice
  • Drove the Alaska Highway
  • Spotted lots of wildlife:  moose, elk, carribou, bears, dall sheep, stone sheep, ptarmigan, etc
  • Drove the Top-of-the-World Highway
  • Swam in both hot springs and cold springs
  • Hiked and biked in some of the most pristine, beautiful places in North America


AND, best of all, we’ve met so many great people along the way!  We are so thrilled when we get an email from these friends, as they have forever touched our hearts.


We feel so blessed to have the time and opportunity to explore this beautiful world.  Because we recognize acutely that our time is finite, we relish every minute.  It's a great way to live.

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Great sunny day today- Whoo-hooo!


We were thrilled to see Ken and Sheri, our caravan friends, who found us this morning in the campground.  They’re staying in a nearby campground and we really enjoyed catching up with them.  They are so much fun that I fear we will attach ourselves to the caravan’s schedule and lose our own spontaneity, not to mention becoming pains for them.  But we sure do enjoy them!


We tackled some homework this morning and then attended the 2pm Sled Dog presentation.  Denali uses sled dogs in the winter to patrol the park and to get supplies to far-reaching cabins, etc.  No motorized vehicles are allowed (by law) in the park during the winter.  It is really special that the 6 million acres of Denali are still wild and quiet.  That’s not easy to find in the world.


During the dog sled demonstration, the musher fell off the sled when it flipped over- it was only his second time in 17 years that he’d fallen.  He was embarrassed, but fortunately wasn’t hurt and was a good sport.  It was all very exciting! 


We also pet the sled dogs, including 11-week-old puppies.  The whole experience was fun and we're glad that we (barely) made the shuttle there.  While all other transportation leaves from the Wilderness Access Center, these buses leave from the Visitor’s Center up the street.


The Visitor’s Center film, “Heartbeat of Denali” was spellbinding as it had video (set to beautiful music) of Denali's wildlife and magnificent land, organized by season.  Winter was most amazing to me.  Absolutely awesome.  Of course, if it was a Disney-esque theatre, it would have pumped in blowing wind, snow, and minus 40 degree weather, and my opinion would perhaps be less romantic regarding winter.


Regardless, we found the best way to visit in the winter!  The Alaska Railroad train has a stop right here in Denali.  Just fly into Anchorage or even closer, Fairbanks, and take the train directly to Denali.  Then you just snowshoe or cross-country ski into the park!  Be sure to bring all your supplies.


That reminds me of how Karstens, the first superintendent of the new Denali Park in 1921, hired his rangers.  He told them to head out into the wilderness for a week and if he didn’t have to come rescue them the entire week, then they got the job!


We found more of the “just add water” dehydrated dinners at the campground store.  The clerk asked us if we were going “into the backcountry?”  Um, no, into the RV!  Haha.  We bought about 6 of them and tonight's chicken primavera was quite good.


Finally, we went to the Ranger’s program tonight at our Riley Creek Campground amphitheatre and learned about wolves.  We had a great time cheering when our team won in double overtime of Wolf Jeopardy!  We got the snazzy bookmarks, whereas the other team only got some lesser bookmarks as a prize.  I suspect that since the Ranger was from Alabama, we had a distinct advantage with the translation of her lovely accent.


A beautiful sunset tonight out Ciao Baby's panoramic back windows indicates the kids are going to bed too late, so I’ll sign off.

Denali National Park
photo by: Vikram