Maggie & bear

We were given a choice by Michael to take the standard wilderness tour that began about 9:00am, or meet about 5:30am for the extended tour. We chose the 5:30. Excellent choice!

UPDATE:

Photo to the right is a young male moose that I thought I missed at the start of the Denali park tour. Gotcha!

We hopped on the air-conditioned bus and started down the dirt road towards Denali. Because we were early and the extended group we would travel another 32 miles farther into the park than the others for a close-up view of the mountains. Along the way we would see wildlife that a person from the east coast had never seen.

Our first encounter was with a baby moose deep in the forest. Sorry, my only photo is a blurry mess of moose, trees and leaves shooting from a moving bus!

First and most numerous were the caribous. They would come out of the countryside and walk a ways on the road we were on before heading out off the road. They didn't seem to be surprised by our vehicle, but maintained a safe distance.

According to our park guide/driver Jim the biggest difference between caribou and reindeer is the extra horn(s) caribou have coming forward off the forehead. They look a bit larger then the white tailed deer that I'm familiar with back home.

We were driving high above a river when we saw our next visitor. There was a fox heading in our general direction so we slowed down to see where he would go. He (or she) actually came up to the road ahead of the bus and escorted us for a short distance!

Farther on the tour in the distance to the left we spotted a white animal walking along the marsh. We only made it about a half mile from it, but it was the only grizzly bear we would see on our trip. Thanks to the Nikon camera and my 200mm lens I could actually identify this animal. Much sharper the the moose.

The bus passed some rocky areas above us and I shot a couple of frames when Jim said he had spotted some mountain sheep sitting near the rocks. By really blowing up the images I could make out their golden horns.

About half ways through the morning we reached our end point. Beyond this was only available to the park rangers but what a great view of the mountain. Jim told us most tours don't get to see this so clearly because of weather conditions and temperatures. We had come on a day with perfect timing.

Now I know the web photo is beautiful, but you should see the 11"x14" I'm printing! If you look at the top of mount McKinley (Denali) you will see a rounded peak on the left side and a sharp peak on the right. The distance between these two peaks is 2 miles. We climbed back on the bus and returned through Denali Park.

After a short bus trip our group arrived at Talkeetna. The evening would be spent at the Talkeetna lodge, with magnificent rooms you can see here. But the real highlight would have to be the view out the window. We were lucky to have the Denali mountain range with beautiful weather.

For supper that night we went with our new friends, Gerri and Johnny to a restaurant in downtown Talkeetna. This was the community that the popular TV show "Northern Exposure" was based on. To give you a little more info, a few years back they had an election for mayor take place. By a series of mistakes, a local cat named Stubbs was written in and got elected!

Tomorrow we would head south towards Anchorage and Seward.

Denali and Talkeetna, Alaska

distant Mt. Denali

moose

caribou thru window

caribou

caribou2

caribou3

fox

grizzly bear

mountain sheep

mt. Denali

talkeetna room

Talkeetna window

Talkeetna