Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fairbanks and Denali National Park!

We hit Fairbanks and checked into the River's Edge RV Park. It was right on the Chena River in the downtown. After doing the laundry, we had a gourmet dinner at their restaurant on a deck next to the river – salmon and halibut! We visited a museum and stocked up for our trip to Denali.

We reserved four nights in the campground at Denali National Park. This is the second largest national park at 6 million acres of area. (The seven largest national parks are all in Alaska). The next morning it was cold and raining when we took the road into the interior. We traveled 90 miles into the park. The round trip took eleven hours. We immediately saw wildlife – two cow moose near the road. All in all, despite the bad weather, we saw six moose, including two bulls, about two dozen caribou, five grizzly bears, a porcupine and an arctic ground squirrels and ptarmigan.

The weather was too cloudy to see Mt. McKinley ( only about 20 percent of the park visitors actually get to see the mountain since it is often obscured by clouds). The next day, the sun was shining as we drove back into the park and it was we were lucky to see the mountain and take some pics. It is an amazing sight since most of the surrounding peaks are about 5 to 7 thousand feet high, but McKinley is over 20 thousand feet high! After seeing the peak, I panned the the telescope around to some of the lower ridges and we saw a group of eight Dall Sheep on a high meadow. I tried to photograph them, but they were at least three miles away. So we saw four of the Big Five in Denali, moose, caribou, bears and mountain sheep. We did not see any wolves, but we attended an excellent ranger program about them.

We also watched a sled dog demonstration that was very interesting. I couldn't believe how fast the dogs pulled the sled and it was on dry land! We hiked some of the trails leading out of the campground and enjoyed the improving weather.

Tomorrow, we will head south towards Anchorage. We plan to stop at Wasilla ( maybe Sara Palin has room in her driveway for us, otherwise we plan to camp at one of the nearby lakes and take the truck in for an oil change ( we've gone 6,000 miles so far). After that, we will continue south to the Kenai Peninsula.

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