"Denali Backcountry and the Nenana River" Denali National Park and Preserve by goingsolo
Denali National Park and Preserve Travel Guide: 321 reviews and 596 photos
Denali is perceived as the true wilderness. Unlike most national parks, there is no road winding around and providing turn offs for the major sights. Visitors can only drive several miles into Denali. Tour buses can venture a bit farther. But even with the almost 90 miles of road that these visitor shuttles are allowed to traverse, the vast majority of Denali is roadless and trailless. The real explorers simply start bushwacking their way through the shrubbery while keeping a watchful eye out for bears and any residue those not so friendly animals may have left behind.
Denali is one of the only places in the United States where grizzly bears are located. In addition, black and brown bears, moose, sheep, foxes and mountain lions all call Denali home. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of one of these animals. If you're even luckier, you might catch a glimpse of the mountain for whom the park is named. Most people don't as the Alaska weather makes it difficult. The massive mountain also makes its own weather and, even on clear days, remains stibbornly hidden behind a layer of clouds. Lucky are those who get to see the mountain on a short excursion here. As you can see from my photos, I wasn't quite so lucky.
I made a three day excursion into Denali National Park. The weather did not cooperate, although on day three it reduced to a light drizzle instead of the all out rain that pelted me for two days. I opted not to do the popular all day tour on the park's only road and instead made a limited excurion into the Denali backcountry and floated by some spectacular scenery on a white knuckle rafting trip on the just above freezing Nenana River. I also made new acquaintences on an early morning hike along one of the few trails in the park (see travelogues).
I wanted to do something off the beaten path for this trip. Since I was exploring a rather remote park, it seemed the fitting thing to do. But since I was travelling solo and under a fear of encountering a grizzly (which is something I'd like to do, but not before I do everything else I want to do in case I don't live to do the other stuff). So I opted for the Denali Backcountry Safari. This company operates tours by special permit through some backcountry areas. We rode in a monster truck, as shown in the photo and looked for animals. Actually, we mostly tried to avoid the rain. But we did encounter some wildlife and saw young black bears at a distance.
This is a place I plan to return. We joke about climbing The Great One someday, but I doubt we will do it. But there is so much of this great park left to explore and I intend to do it at some point. For now, feel free to take a look at some of the wonders of the best wilderness in the National Park System.
- Pros:0ne of the most remote wilderness areas of the country
- Cons:0ne of the rainiest areas of the country
- In a nutshell:worth a visit even when you can't see the mountain
The abandoned mining camp we visited. Photo courtesy of some friends whose luck with weather was far better than mine.... more travel advice
I was pretty bummed returning from my visit to Denali and not having seen the mountain. Fortunately, a friend had better... more travel advice
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Denali National Park and Preserve Travel Guide
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