I haven’t posted since we were in Haines. We have seen lots of beautiful scenery and had some exciting times since then.
Welcome to Alaska sign outside of Haines Junction.
On our drive from Haines back to Haines Junction we saw a very large grizzly right at the side of the road. He wasn’t too excited about having us stop the pickup to take a few pictures, but he stayed around long enough for me to get a good shot. These bears are simply beautiful. They are so massive, with thick fur waving in the wind. I can’t get enough of them…as long as there is a safe exit for me. However, not a single bear has been aggressive. It is true, they are more afraid of us, then we of them.
We stayed one night in the tiny town of Tok, Alaska. I’m glad we are here now to visit and not the winter time. Evidently, Tok is the coldest town in Alaska. It can get down to 70 degrees below zero. We talked to a sporting goods store manager and he said it isn’t uncommon for it to be 30 degrees below zero for several weeks. BRRrrrrrr.
We stayed 3 nights at the Riley Creek campground in Denali Park.
Cow and calf moose that could be seen each day at the campground.
You cannot drive to Alaska without spending some time at the park. And be sure to spend more than one day. We took one day just to visit the Visitor centers (there are 3 of them), view the exhibits, and watch the movies. My highlight was watching the sled dog demonstration. Those of you who know me, know that I AM a dog lover. They have about 30 working sled dogs at the Park Headquarters. They use the dogs to make patrols in the winter. These are very friendly dogs, who love the attention. They were quite interested in me since I smelled like a dog to them! Notice the kiss I received.
Denali sled dog kiss.
On our third day we took the Tundra Wilderness Tour, an 8 hour narrated bus tour into Denali Park. It had snowed last night, so we had a cold, windy but sunny day on the tundra.
Denali Park view during Tundra Wilderness tour.
I highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to learn more about Denali and have a chance to see some wildlife. The tundra is a different terrain from anything I have ever experienced. There are mountains all around, braided rivers, glacial valleys, and rolling tundra. It is such an immense, beautiful wilderness.
I was the first person to site wildlife; caribou in a distance. We also saw golden eagles, arctic ground squirrels, snowshoe hares (lots of them), dall sheep, bears, a coyote and a lynx. We did not see any wolves or Denali mountain. She was covered by a large bank of fog and clouds. Maybe we will get a good view on the way to Anchorage tomorrow. There is a cow moose and calf staying right around the campground. Evidently, this is a major calving area due to all the cover and willow. However, the grizzlies know that too, so it isn’t uncommon to see them nearby. We learned that only about 20% of the moose calves make it through the year since they are prime food for the bears. I told Garry that this is just the balance of nature here in the Denali wilderness. We need to remember that there are actually more moose in the park by far, than grizzlies. There are only about 300 bear in the park. Two grizzlies on braided river in Denali Park
Our next drive is to Anchorage where we will spend 2 days. I need to take the dogs to a ‘doggy do’ place for baths. They have done quite well, but are getting just a bit dusty. We will do some sightseeing in Anchorage and then drive down to Seward.