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The Denali Road

Ready to explore the park
Ready to explore the park
Denali National Park is the first US national park that I visited where personal vehicle traffic is restricted, so visitors are required to ride on official buses to access the park along the main road.  And there is just one main road in Denali, so why not sit back and let someone else drive.  It was a nice experience to sit back and enjoy the scenery as we traveled to the end of the road where Camp Denali and North Face Lodge are located.  Our driver was a fantastic multi-tasker, driving at times on steep, curvy cliffsides while answering our questions and then always on the lookout for wildlife.  We saw moose, bears, caribou, a lone wolf, Dall sheep, pikas, and marmots.  I was a bit worried my two kids would get bored and lose interest during that seven hour drive, but their eyes were glued to the windows.  They counted probably 20 times more bears than there really were (darn those bear-shaped boulders), but their curiosity and focus was impressive.  As much as I enjoyed the wildlife, the anticipation to see Denali Mountain grew every mile as we entered in the park.  The geology and topography was as interesting as the wildlife with the glaciated valleys and their glaciers and the meandering rivers that were full of water, carving channels through the tundra. There were kettle ponds, ponds formed from indentions made from chunks of ice that melted, and the moose and loons could be found along the water's edges.  We didn't see the park's namesake mountain on the drive in, but we knew it was there, shrouded by clouds.  And we were excited to get to the end of the road at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge knowing we had a week to explore this special place and hope for a break in the clouds.

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