United States
McKinley Park

Here you’ll find travel reports about McKinley Park. Discover travel destinations in the United States of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

15 travelers at this place:

  • Day13

    Canyons on the Wilderness Express

    August 25, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    The canyon rail track is perilously close to the edge and has recently been stabilised costing more than US$70 million. White water rafting is happening on the river. There is so much glacial silt coming down this river that it does not support fish life.

  • Day25

    Denali dreaming

    September 16, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    This place is all about pristine wilderness. Today we all set our alarms so we would be ready for a six am bus trip. Some people are not aware of the existence of a six o'clock ante meridien, but were brought to a rude awakening today. It was brisk, about six degrees Celsius, but we have those temperatures at home without much fuss. Here the locals were walking around in shirt sleeves commenting on the lovely weather and wondering if and when they would see the first snowfalls. Normally, by this date the trees would have lost their leaves and snow would be settling and staying on the ground and dog sled would have replaced wheeled transport. They are not unhappy about the extra summer but concerned that no snow has come. Today, as has been the case with us for so many days, the weather was clear and sunny. The clouds that had provided a light cover last night were still present but not as dense.

    Denali National Park is a wilderness conservation area. There is only one road in and out, and after a short while within the park, the made roads disappear and exist only as gravel roads. They do not have walking trails beyond the first few kilometres because they want to leave the place for the animals and plants. Rangers and environmentalists can go in to monitor but this is limited too. Within that first circle where cars can still travel, they have regular stopping places that are kept meticulously clean and monitored by custodial and Parks staff. They have some of the fanciest longdrops here. Both Canada and Alaska have these dual roomed public toilets in remote places. Each door in the pair is a very solid floor-to-roof door with big sliding locks. This is to discourage bears from moving in or offering to evict you from it. I suspect they are also refuges from cranky bears too, if a wanderer got surprised by a bear.

    So much is their concern about keeping the park for the animals, that they have a lottery for visiting the park. If you wish to visit the park at all, you apply and wait to see if you win the lottery. This permits only a few cars at a time to come in and disturb the environment. Bodies are counted in and out of the park by their own Parks Ranger Smith (Yogi Bear reference for young people) to make sure things are kept right and tight. We were on a bus that was part of the tour and managed by special arrangement to have us come in. Groups in buses are preferred because they are scheduled, supervised and can do more with less. We also have a knowledgeable driver.

    Our bus driver loved his work. He just loves Alaska. He is very rough and ready, happy and comfortable, laconic and inarticulate all in one. His passion carried him through where his patter faltered frequently. One of the reasons he does this job is that he is an amateur photographer. Stopping the bus to take pictures was not just for us. He would stop, open his window or door, get his fancy camera out and take photos. We could too if we wished. Sometimes he would forget to tell us what we were looking at and people were scouring the countryside to spot whatever it was that had caused the bus to stop. He had seen a good shot of Mt Denali, 80 kms away, pulled up and taken it. We didn't mind at all. He was generous and excited to look for animals and was not stinting when we wanted time to get a better shot. He was snapping too.

    At the first stop, a history session on the establishment of the park allowed me to get a fuzzy picture of the biggest rabbit you ever saw. Our rabbits look like babies by comparison. This one was probably the Snowshoe Hare in his summer coat. Nearby, a couple of Americans announced loudly, that they had seen a stupid fat pigeon. They made jokes. What they had seen was the Alaskan State bird, the Ptarmigan, also in its winter coat.

    A little further on, our friendly bus driver, rounded a corner and said "MOOSE. 9 O'CLOCK" and we all peered down into a gully. We could just make out the massive antlers. We couldn't get any closer and he wasn't going to move, so on we went. Our next instructional stop and restroom break was a cultural stop. We were met by a young man called Sean who has Athabascan and two other clan identities. He was there to tell us the story of First Nations and Denali. Unfortunately, he had to wait to speak to us because a massive great bull moose was right where he was to give his talk. His talk normally included the uttering of the cries of the moose. One of these was the challenging call of one adult male to another. He felt that doing the call today might cause a disaster! We got our pictures of the big moose, who got annoyed by all the fuss and left. Then we listened to the story. It was mostly on how to kill moose the traditional way. I think that this was perhaps not well timed.

    A few minutes later and while we were congratulating ourselves on our pictures of bullwinkle, the bus shot off at great speed and a few short hair-raising seconds later came to a screeching halt with the words "CARIBOU 2 O'CLOCK". This one was being a bit shy so we waited. This is where having a driver interested in getting the picture was of such benefit for us. A disinterested one would have told us that we had a schedule to keep and drive on. Not ours. We hovered around for quite some time, begging the large male caribou to show us more than his bottom. At one stage it seemed clear that the animal wanted to cross the road. Our driver and the second driver in the second bus (they travel in pairs) blocked the road completely and no other cars could come through. The caribou then wandered across the road, paused, had a look at us, then went down the embankment to the clump of trees on the other side. We let the traffic through but continued to watch him for some time. I don't know if they are instructed to do this, but both the drivers commented on the overexcited Lottery Winner drivers and their often very selfish eagerness to get photos. They commented that these new-comers often took risks with themselves and the wildlife and our drivers would always try to protect the animal from too much stress. I am not sure if this is entirely legit or just an inflated sense of self-righteousness, but I did see signs of unwise behaviour from some private drivers, so I guess our drivers might be right.

    The moose and the caribou were all wild animals and we had got up close and personal. Very nice indeed. We were told we were phenomenally lucky to have had such close encounters with these big animals. No bears though. Our driver was beginning to believe in our luck but he drew the line at a grizzly strolling by.

    It turns out that this was also our driver's last tour for the season. Like many of the shops, restaurants and tour operators, they are packing up. It is the end of the season. We were the last group to come through in numbers and they will be moving on to their winter jobs in the next few days.

    After a short morning tea/breakfast, we were on our own. We took the opportunity to catch up on washing and preparing for the last few days. Many of us just took our ease, checked out the end of season bargains in souvenir shops, took photos, or in some cases took spouses to doctors. Not us, but several people on the bus have developed bad colds with nasty coughs and a few have resorted to bed rest. Ross continues to cough but it is a different cough and is not associated with a cold at all. It has been of growing concern that so many are ill. I think perhaps the time for holiday is over and people need to stop breathing each other's germs. It seems that a trip to the doctor here is $400 a visit. Gasp! Hopefully, these sickies will recover soon.

    One other thing happened today that cheered Ross up. I had refused to let him wear his grey jumper one more day. I told him he could wear his nice new lime green fleecy jacket that he bought in Canada and give the jumper a wash. Grumble, grumble. Attempts at negotiating failed, so on with the green jacket and his Banff beanie. If he was going out into the wilderness he was going out in a beanie. At one stop he climbed back on the bus. The beanie had worked its way up his head and was now perched on top. I suggested he pull it down to keep his ears warm and to make him look a little less like an elf. It was one of those moments when a comment uttered in normal tones, gets heard by everyone. From the back of the bus came, "Not an elf. He's a smurf!" I must admit the fit was apt except he was green and the smurfs were blue. There was general ribbing and laughter after that. Ross enjoyed his temporary notoriety.

    Late in the afternoon, after the washing, drying and repacking had occurred, we went in search of a simple dinner. We saw a pizza joint nearby and ordered two small pizzas. Well, this began a trauma we had not anticipated. Their small pizza is our family-sized pizza. I tried to suggest there had been an error when mine arrived. I had ordered a small. I was reassured that this monster was all mine and Ross' was on its way. Gasp. We did our best, but I could only eat half. Ross got one slice more than me and we were exhausted. I was feeling awful at the waste and kept wondering if I could find a homeless person to give this food too. We looked up to see another couple from our group face exactly the same dilemma. They got a pizza box and left. We were about to do the same when in walked another fellow traveller. I tried to warn her about the size differential so she would not be caught like we had. She had just got back from taking her husband to the doctor and was trying to get something quick for them to eat in their room. She kindly agreed to take our leftovers. We felt better because the food was not wasted and she saved a few dollars after that massive doctor's bill. It all worked out in the end.

    Now, while Ross naps, I will finish off today's entry with some of the photos of our day in the wilderness.
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  • Day13

    Denali Nationalpark

    August 10, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Um 6.30 Uhr klingelte unser Wecker. Wir hatten extrem schlecht geschlafen. Im Gegensatz zu den letzten Nächten, wo wir bei absoluter Stille im Wald oder an Seen standen, war auf diesem Campingplatz eine Geräuschkulisse wie auf der Autobahn. Wir waren froh, dass wir nur eine und nicht gleich zwei Übernachtungen gebucht hatten. Angesehen von der Lautstärke war der Platz zwar gepflegt aber sehr eng. Das beworbene "Free Wifi" war eine einmalige, halbstündige Internetnutzung - vorausgesetzt, man hat bei dem Telefonanbieter einen Account oder legt ihn dort an. Für 45 $ je Übernachtung kein wiederholungsbedürftiges Ereignis.

    Wir frühstückten, nutzen die Ver- und Entsorgung und machten uns auf den Weg zum Denali Bus Stop. Es war schönes Wetter, wenn auch etwas kühl mit nur 3 Grad Celsius. Unser Bus kam pünktlich und wir bekamen unsere Wunschplätze vorne direkt hinter dem Fahrer mit Fenster. Der Himmel war blau, die Wetterprognose gut und so starteten wir mit Wayne, unserem Busfahrer, in die Natur. Was ne war ein erfahrener Fahrer und er bot und an, ein wenig über den Park zu erzählen vorausgesetzt, alle wären still wenn er redete. Das war prima, da hinter und im Bus eine achtköpfige japanische Famile saß, deren Mutter so fürchterlich quiekend viel redete. Als Wayne also allgemeines über den Park berichtete war Stille im Bus, die auch anhielt, weil die gesamte Familie bei Waynes Erzählungen eingeschlafen war.

    Wir waren noch nicht weit im Park, da sichteten wir das erste Tier. Es war ein kleiner Fuchs und der Bus hielt, sodass wir ihm eine Weile zusehen konnten. Weiter ging es mit allgemeinen Verhaltenshinweisen bei Wildtierkontakt tiefer in den Nationalpark hinein. Die Busfahrt ist so geplant, dass der Bus ohne Erzählungen seine Stecke abfährt, an festgelegten Haltestellen 10 Minuten Pause macht, wo die Fahrgäste den Bus auch verlassen dürfen und bei Tiersichtungen auf freier Strecke darf der Bus zwar anhalten aber niemanden aussteigen lassen. Wayne gab uns Informationen zum Park, erzählte Wissenswertes zu den Tieren, die wir sahen, machte zahlreiche Fotostopps und erzählte Geschichten über verunglückte Personen, Tierbegegnungen, einem Flugzeugabsturz usw. Es war eine tolle Fahrt bei der wir außer den Fuchs noch Rentiere, Greifvögel, Bären und eine Ziege zu sehen bekamen. Mit dem jungen Ziegenbock fieberten wir gemeinsam mit Wayne mit. Er hatte sich von seinen Artgenossen getrennt und rannte quer über die freie Fläche über einige Hügel und war dabei gut sichtbar. Wayne berichtete, dass er sich geradewegs auf das Tal zubewegt, wo die Wölfe ihr Revier haben. Die Chance, dass die Ziege die Überquerung überleben würde, schätze er als sehr gering ein. Wir beobachteten den kleinen Kerl also weiter, hielten gemeinsam die Luft an, wenn er gerade einmal nicht sichtbar hinter Büschen verschwunden war und freuten uns, wenn er irgendwo unbeschadet wieder auftauchte. Zudem hielten wir Ausschau nach den Wölfen. Das waren einige Minuten absoluter Spannung und letztlich hatte der kleine Ziegenbock riesiges Glück und konnte nach der Durchquerung des Tals seinen Weg ohne Verfolger weiter fortsetzen. Derartige Wege sollte er sich allerdings nicht öfter aussuchen 😀

    Neben den Tieren war natürlich die Landschaft im Nationalpark der absolute Wahnsinn. Aufgrund des guten Wetters hatten wir - was wohl sehr selten der Fall ist - das Glück, den Mount McKinley, der seit wenigen Jahren Denali heißt, komplett wolkenfrei sehen zu können. Ein wirklich beeindruckender Anblick. Zum Glück waren wir auch mit der richtigen Ausrüstung unterwegs. Ich hatte beide Spiegelreflexkameras dabei, auf einer das 24-105 mm Objektiv, auf der anderen das 70-200 mm mit 1,4x Konverter. Da ich damit aber ziemlich beladen war, habe ich wenige Fotos mit dem Handy machen können. Ich reiche nach meiner Rückkehr dazu noch Bilder aus der Kamera nach 😀

    Nach 8 Stunden, die sehr schnell vergingen, kamen wir wieder am Busdepot an. Wir waren ziemlich platt, wollten aber die freie Strecke der Denali Parc Road noch einmal fahren. Auf unserem Weg standen plötzlich jede Menge Autos und aufgeregte Menschen auf der Straße. Der Grund war ein riesiger Elch, der direkt am Wegesrand stand und fraß. Ein irres Gefühl, wenn man dem in recht geringer Entfernung gegenüber steht und einem klar wird, dass kein Zaun ihn aufhalten würde, würde er sich auf einen zu bewegen. Dieser Elch aber nahm wie Fotografen lediglich kurz zur Kenntnis und fraß ungestört weiter.

    Wir hatten inzwischen auch Hunger, fuhren zum Ende der öffentlich befahrbaren Straße und machten uns auf dem dort gelegenen Parkplatz schnell Kartoffelpüree und Spiegelei. Nach dem Essen stellten wir fest, dass es bereits spät war und in unmittelbarer Nähe kein öffentlicher Campingplatz war. Hier waren am Vorabend bereits am frühen Abend alle Plätze ausgebucht und zudem schließen die Plätze hier relativ früh. Wir überlegten, wo wir nun übernachten sollten. Wir erinnerten uns, dass auf dem Parkplatz der Busstation "overnight parking and Camping" verboten war, als wir an einem weiteren Parkplatz vorbei kamen, wo Schilder standen "only overnight parking" und "overnight camping forbitten" stand. Nachdem wir alle Interpretationsmöglichkeiten durchgespielt hatten, beschlossen wir uns dort zwischen die anderen parkenden Fahrzeuge zu stellen und direkt ins Bett zu gehen. Der Parkplatz ist wohl für Wanderer und Radfahrer gedacht, die im Park übernachten. Außer uns standen noch weitere drei Wohnmobile dort, die ebenfalls bemüht waren, einem unvewohnten Eindruck zu machen. Wir gingen ins Bett und schliefen direkt tief und fest. Was für ein toller und aufregender Tag! 😊

    Ich kann den Park nur jedem empfehlen, der hier zufällig einmal in der Nähe ist. Die Bustour war auch gut, unbedingt Plätze hinter dem Fahrer für die Hinfahrt und auf der anderen Seite für die Rückfahrt wählen. Zudem gibt's in der Busstation freies WLAN.
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  • Day17

    The sled dogs of Denali

    May 23, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

    A couple of videos of sled dogs used in park, average dog runs 1700 miles per year , the kennel takes on average 120 trips per year supporting winter operations in the park, being designated a wilderness area no motorized equipment is used off of the main road in summer and none in the winter, I used to run sled dogs with Arnold Woodard when me and mb lived in anchorage.Read more

  • Day10


    June 16, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    Long drive but we made it. The most spectacular scenery you can imagine. We saw Moose drinking on the side of the road on the way too!

    Staying at a very special campground, 20 miles into the park ... Tough spot to reserve and completely off the grid. Should be awesome!

  • Day23


    June 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 48 °F

    We were lucky today as we saw many animals: grizzly bears, moose, caribou, ptarmigan, and Dall sheep. Sometimes they were behind trees, down in the valley, up the side of a mountain and others were close. We were lucky in that we were able to see Mt McKinley! See photo 4 - in the middle of the photo you see two white peaks - that is Mt. McKinley. Photo six is a zoomed in view of Mt McKinley. It was about 70 miles away and the elevation is 20,310 feet.Read more

  • Day22

    On to Denali

    June 6, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    We left Fairbanks and headed southwest on the Parks Highway, also known as Alaska 3. You can see where parts of the road have the dips and heaves showing it was built on permafrost. Also, you pass an access road that leads to Clear, a large radar site that is part of the ballistic missile early warning system. After crossing the the Tanana River we stopped in the village of Nenana. This village is used as a transfer point for fuel and other goods from the railroad to river barges headed for villages on the Tanana and Yukon Rivers. Nenana is known for their Nenana Ice Classic, an annual betting pool where hundreds of thousands of dollars are wagered by people around the world trying to guess the exact day and time in the spring when the river ice will go out. Of course we placed our wagers! When the Alaska Railroad was completed in 1923 President Harding drove a golden spike in Nenana to commemorate the railroad completion. Nenana has also been a stop for the Iditarod Race. We then continued on to Denali.Read more

  • Day23

    Denali National Park and Preserve

    June 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 48 °F

    Today was spent touring Denali National Park. We took the Wilderness Tundra bus tour which was about 8 hours long.

    Denali National Park and Preserve has just one road, called the Denali Park Road, and it is the only way in and out. The road is 92 miles long, and only the first 15 miles of it are paved. That paved portion, leading from the park entrance to Savage River, is open during the summer for public vehicles to drive, which is why we did a tour so that we could go deeper in the park. The remainder of the road is packed gravel and there are no guard rails. We traveled about 2/3 of the 92 miles. Today, 100 years ago, the 1st party to set foot on the highest part happened. At this moment, there are 500 climbers on the mountain.

    In 1917, Congress created this park for one main reason: to protect Dall sheep and was called Mt. McKinley. In 1906 gold was being mined by approximately 2000 people. Dalo sheep were in abundance in this area and were hunted to provide food. In 1980 Congress expanded the park boundaries and added other reasons for its existence, including protection of North America's tallest mountain (now called Denali) and to provide a place for wilderness recreation. The word "Denali" means "the high one" in the native Athabaskan language and refers to the mountain itself. Denali is a huge park (more than 6 million acres), but has very few trails. This is intentional - to preserve wilderness recreation.
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  • Day24

    Hiking Denali

    June 8, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 54 °F

    The weather was great for hiking - in the mid 50's - and that's what we did today.

    We went back to Denali and hiked two trails. The first was Horseshoe Lake Trail. As the name suggests, the trail takes you down and around Horseshoe Lake. This trail has a 20% slope down (which you have to go back up!). Along the lake you can see beavers, their dams and trees that they are gnawing on or have felled. We also saw a snowshoe hare. The trail also takes you along the Nenana River. A beautiful hike!

    Our next trail connected with the Horseshoe Lake Trail and it was the Taiga Trail. Taiga Trail is slightly easier with only a 15% slope. This trail leads you back to the Visitors Center. While hiking this trail we came across a moose - up close and personal! It was right off the trail.

    After the hike we decided to drive in the RV as far as the Park allows private vehicles to go in the Park - 15 miles.
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  • Day12


    June 21, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    We're staying at the Princess Wilderness Lodge in Denali National Park. The mountain makes its own whether it was shrouded in clouds. Two days in Denali National Park is just too short. But we went to see the sled dogs and took the Natural History tour. The dogs were great - we love their joy & energy when they're harnessed to work!

    But the highlight of our trip was seeing a close encounter between a grizzly bear and six unsuspecting tourists. The tourists did exactly what they're supposed to do - holding up their arms and trying to look as big as possible and making a lot of noise to scare off the bear. The bear checked them out and decided he wanted nothing to do with them and wandered off!!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

McKinley Park, MCL, _Alaska

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