Our bus tour into Denali National Park started about 11:00 in the morning. It was scheduled to be a 5 1/2 hour trip, travelling about 45 miles into the park and back out the same way. The road was built in 1930 and went substantially further than we could go this year. There was a landslide that has closed the road. The National Parks Service website describes the landslide in this way. “The Pretty Rocks landslide has been active since at least the 1960s, and probably since well before the Denali Park Road was built through this area in 1930. Before 2014, the landslide only caused small cracks in the road surface and required moderate maintenance every 2-3 years. However, in 2014 road maintenance crews noticed a substantial speed up. By 2016 the movement had increased further and a monitoring program was begun. The rate of road movement within the landslide evolved from inches per year prior to 2014, to inches per month in 2017, inches per week in 2018, inches per day in 2019, and up to 0.65 inches per hour in 2021.” The website also shows a time-lapse video of the land slide, showing the side of the mountain sluffing off.
But, let’s not worry about what we couldn’t see or do, but celebrate what we could see and do.
We hit Denali at the peak of fall colors.
As we entered the park, there was lots of color in the sub-arctic meadows. The red colors are from birch trees. Yes, those short brushy bushes are birch.
I believe that the yellows are aspens.
The colors were spectacular set against the deep blue skies and white clouds.
These fall scenes are not the same as we are used to in the Midwest, but so beautiful.
Once again, we were treated to views of Mt. Denali. The rugged snowy peaks are offset by the reds and yellows of the fall colors. We are still about 60 miles away from the peaks.
I was able to get this panoramic photo at one of our rest stops. It gives a better perspective of how open this area is.
The clouds would come and go. Here, the area close to us is sunny, but the mountain is shrouded in mystery.
This grizzly bear was walking along the road, but turned into the meadow as we approached.
These ground squirrels were constantly on the look out for trouble.
Yeah, I guess we’re safe to be out.
I have to give our bus driver a lot of credit for all the wildlife photos I got. He spotted these caribou way off on a rock. I struggled to find them for a while. I was glad to have my long lens and still had to heavily crop the image to get this view.
This is not likely two males since the female caribou also have antlers.
This golden eagle flew by us. It isn’t a great photo as it was taken from a moving bus.
Another grizzly bear was grazing.
This is the Teklanika River and is typical of the glacial rivers in Alaska. It has several channels through the silt where the water flows. These rivers are constantly changing channels. In another week, the channels will have moved as the silt moves with the flowing water. Rarely is the river “full” across the entire expanse of the silty area.
One last caribou as we are about to exit the park.
A 5 1/2 hour bus ride on unpaved roads might not sound like fun, but the time flew by. We got to see some spectacular scenery and wildlife. And, with all we saw, we have only scratched the surface of Denali, and of Alaska, too.