The Road to Denali

Location: Anchorage -> Talkeetna -> Healy (Denali)

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We slept in today! For the first time in days we got a full nights sleep and didn’t have to get anywhere in a hurry early in the morning.

We left the hotel around 1030 and made our way up Alaska Rts 1 and 3 towards Denali. The initial part of the drive wasn’t particularly scenic, but we did see our first bald eagle of the trip. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to take its picture (or the other three that followed later in the day).

For lunch we stopped in the indie artsy “authentic” Alaskan frontier town of Talkeetna. We didn’t have any specific plans, like an air tour, so we just window shopped and got something to eat.

Talkeetna
Talkeetna

The rest of the drive north was much more scenic. We kept getting closer to Denali and the surrounding mountains. At first it was a little cloudy and we couldn’t spot the tallest mountain in North America. We just assumed it was one of the many tall mountains nearby. That was of course, until we actually spotted it! It dwarfed the 14ers of the Alaska Range nearby. We now understand why the native Alaskans called it “the big one”.

With every passing mile and turn of the road we got better and better views of the beast. We took advantage of the south and north overlooks provided at the Denali State Park to get great pictures of the mountain range. We were even able to see the entire mountain unobscured by clouds; a feat that’s only possible 30% of the time.

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We spotted some other wildlife along the way, including porcupines and a female moose. We weren’t able to get a good picture of the latter. We hope to have better luck tomorrow.

The only view we could get… of its behind.

Eventually we made it to the Denali National Park area. We took a side trip up Grande Drive to see some of the clever road signs posted along its windy road.

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Grande Dr. on googlemaps
The signs on Grande Dr. Yes... really!
The signs on Grande Dr. Yes… really!

Overnight we hope to see the northern lights, y’know for the 39 min that it might actually be dark. Tomorrow we actually tour Denali National Park.

Today’s weather: High 63, Low 42, partly cloudy

Sunrise: 4:17am Sunset: 11:28pm

Wildlife spottings of note: Bald eagle, moose, and porcupine

Total steps: 6,438

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