A nice lady that I met while at Cheena Hot Springs told me to skip going into Denali park. The best views of the mountain are from the South side at around mile 135. I had already reserved my spot for the 11 hour Denali transit bus ride to Wonder Lake.
You can drive your own vehicle the first part of the road, but to really see the park, you have to take a bus. I was interested to find that much of the park is trailless – encouraging you to hike the backcountry armed with a good map and camping out of view from the single dirt road. When exploring, you avoid hiking single file to minimize impact to the park and really keeping the wilderness wild.
I awoke to a little rain and an overcast morning. Leaving my tent pitched and much of my gear stached in the tent, I rode light to the Wilderness Travel Center – aka bus stop. I didn’t have an optimistic outlook on the day. but hey, if the weather continued to suck, I can always catch a transit bus going the opposite direction.
I don’t know how to sunmarize the day, other than it was a great day… filled with a variety of experiences, wildlife, and weather. While we didn’t see the tip top peak of Denali, we were fortunate to enjoy great views of much of the mountain.
We had good sitings of Dall’s Sheep, six Grizzly Bears, many Carribou, a Peregrin Falcon, and other varieties of birds and smaller animals.
I enjoyed walking around at Wonder Lake wondering what it would be like to do a long backpack trip across the tundra. It is a bit tiring to find your next footsteps through the brush, the ground spongy and uneven.
I loved looking at the different types of plants and eating wild blueberries which were plentiful and perfectly ripe.
Capping the day was a rainbow over colorful Denali. The vegetation is just beginning to show autumn colors.
For an even better itinerary, I would take camping gear with me for an overnight stay at Wonder Lake campground. The Wonder Lake campground has 28 tent only sites with water and flush toilets.