Tundra Wilderness Bus tour
Denali National Park Travel Blog› entry 5 of 11 › view all entries
Bus Tour today! To get everyone in the shower we began waking up at 4:45am (Someone actually was up in time to see a sunrise in AK!). We had to meet Denali’s Wildlife Access Center by 5:45am and the bus would then leave at 6. We let the secret out that bus tickets cost $80 and since nobody else planned the trip they began the morning pessimistic. Couldn’t believe we would spend that much money for a bus ride. We took the “Tundra Wilderness Tour” which is suppose to be good for wildlife, the ride lasts about 7 hours (depending on animal sightings), allowed for a few stops to stretch the legs, small boxed lunch (more of a snack) and a booklet about the park. We picked up subway sandwiches the night before in case we got hungry, we didn’t get back until 2:oopm. When the bus arrived it was already half full! Apparently it picks up riders from the Princess hotel lodgings first so when we got on we were stuck in the very last row, being stuck shoulder to shoulder.
I was a bit nervous with the start and people’s attitudes. I couldn’t blame them, but if we saw some good wildlife it would all be worth it. And it didn’t take long for the bus driver to slam on the brakes, quiet everyone down and turn on his video camera. Up in front of us was a snowshoe hare . . . a rabbit. Are you kidding me? We stopped for a fricken rabbit!?! First impression continues, Denali is not doing so good.
A little more up the road we stopped for some Willow Ptarmigans. A small bird that stays on the ground so not necessarily a huge find, but it’s the Alaska state bird so it was starting to be interesting considering we don’t have those in Wisconsin. Then almost one hour into the park we saw our first Grizzly Bear. He was down in a river valley so he/she was hard to see without binoculars or the zoom of our camera. We continued on feeling better about the trip. People are becoming optimistic when we enter another valley and find three more grizzly bears! 1 mother and 2 cubs about 2 years old. Throughout the day we will find 17 grizzly bears! (We were told there was only a little over 300 Grizzly Bears in the park so we did pretty good) Our third sighting was a mother and two spring cubs.
We also saw about 13 caribou and one with a huge set of antlers. But our other big sighting was a moose. We are almost back, we hadn’t seen one yet and people are getting restless anxious to be back when Ruth shouts out to stop. The bus stops, nobody can see it and people are beginning to doubt her when all of a sudden we see the moose with two baby calves. We even were able to watch them nurse for a little while.
The other big destination of this bus ride was to get a good view of Mt. McKinley, which is not always a guarantee. The majority of people who go to Alaska will not see it because it is clouded in. However we were quite lucky and were able to see most of the mountain from only 30 miles away. It looked amazing.
The ride through the park had beautiful view; awesome tundra valleys, braided rivers, high & steep cliffs to make us hold our breath for awhile, and some great evidence of past glaciers with erratic boulders, kettle lakes etc.
When we returned Brenda and I made a few trips to the visitor center and wildlife center to purchase car passes and a senior citizen pass (for Grandpa).