The end of our seven day Alaska cruise saw us at Anchorage as the last port. This was where the REAL adventure begins. Where on the cruise ship, we were pampered daily with several choices of delicious hot food and superb room service, on this next leg of our journey, all seven of us get to be cozy together in one RV camper where we have to buy groceries and cook our own food. No room service of course. Where on the cruise ship, you can take daily hot showers in the tiny bathroom with fresh towels, in the camper, we shared a tiny bathroom where our own house rules do not allow showering or emptying our bowels to prevent the very unpleasant task of unclogging drains or using up precious water supply. Hold that thought, I will talk about that later. 🙂
However, unlike the cruise ship, we were free to go wherever we wanted, free to explore little towns and off the beaten pathways. Unlike the cruise ship, we didn’t have to dress up fancy nor follow a strict dinner schedule. In other words, we were liberated from mass tourism and can kick up our heels and be as crazy as much as we want.
After loading up our camper with supplies, we headed north to Denali National Park. We had a 3 day reservation in one of its campgrounds but because we already accomplished what we were set out to do in two days, we shortened our stay and left on the last day and decided to go somewhere else. The beauty of spontaneity.
Denali National Park and Preserve is America’s third largest national park that covers six million acres of wilderness. It is centered around Mt. McKinley, North America’s highest peak with an elevation of more than 20,000 feet above sea level. Denali, as it is locally called by the Native Americans means The High One.
So, what was there to do in two days?
Mostly, it was all about the wildlife. If you go to Africa for a safari, Denali is the next best thing. They even have the “Big Five”: grizzly bear, moose, caribou, dall sheep and wolves. We’ve seen three out of the five and other animals as well. This is no zoo, this is their natural habitat.
The Park also has its own team of sled dogs who patrol and protect the park’s vast areas during the wintertime. They have been a vital part of the Park’s history. During summer, visitors can visit the kennels and pet these beautiful huskies, take photos or attend a sled dog demonstration.
You can go hiking or camping out in the back country for which you would have to have a permit. And because this is bear country, everyone is urged to be “beary aware.” There are also so many hiking trails to chose from that would suit everyone’s abilities. We’ve hiked at least four easy and short ones.
Day two, we rode a four hour bus to one of its six visitor centers in the hopes of getting a chance to see Mt. McKinley’s elusive peaks. We saw animals on the way but no peak. Tip: Private vehicles can only go so far inside the Park. The best way to see the interior is to get on a Denali bus.
Apart from the wildlife that you encounter along the way, you get THESE as bonus points too!
Nothing but vast open green spaces of mountains and rivers and tundra and brush. You will never feel claustrophobic here! My head was plastered to the bus window the entire time, just simply enjoying the natural beauty of my surroundings. The four hour ride back to our campground didn’t seem long at all as there was always something to see.
After getting in as much Denali as we want in our two days, we decided to pack up and go drive to another destination. It was a bright sunny day and on our way out, we suddenly see THIS.
The Peak!!! Denali is so big that it has its own weather system and is mostly covered by clouds. We were one of the lucky few who got the chance to see Denali that day! We stopped and made sure to take lots of photos whichever and however way we wanted.
Seeing that just somehow made our beautiful day even more better. What were our chances?
Denali peak? CHECK! Moving on to the next adventure.
I almost forgot about that bathroom situation. 🙂 I promised so here’s my tale. So we made up house rules prior to this trip. No showers, no #2 inside. The only time we get to do this is when we are parked in a campground/RV park where the facilities are complete and they are much better able to handle bathroom emergencies. I tell you I paid $7.25 for a 3 minute hot shower! Best shower ever! The further up north we got the more expensive the showers got. Bathing? I ain’t got time for that!