Dateline: June 24, 2014
Today was the day to take a bus ride into the interior of Denali National Park. (I keep thinking of these bus trips as safaris, but I think I’m the only one using that word.) Our tickets were to get us to the Eielson Visitor’s Center at mile #66. That’s about 50 miles further than we’re allowed to go by driving ourselves. There is only one way into the park, and that’s on these buses. You can get a “shuttle” bus or a “tour” bus. The tour buses cost about twice as much, and your driver is also a tour guide, offering commentary along the way. On the tour buses you receive lunch; on the shuttle buses you have to bring your own lunch. The shuttle buses cover exactly the same route as the tour buses, and some drivers offer commentary and some do not. We chose the shuttle bus.
During the drive (which lasted a total of about nine hours), we saw a moose, a mother grizzly with two cubs, a lot of dall sheep, and a lot of caribou.
We also took a one-hour tundra hike in the cold, rainy weather at the Eielson Visitor’s Center. We rode out on one bus and rode back on a different one. The tundra hike allowed us to see a lot of arctic tundra wildflowers. There were so many of them, and they were arranged among the rocks and lichens so artistically, that I couldn’t help thinking of them as a garden. They looked like a garden. It was amazing.
Back in the campground in the evening, I had to drive the motorhome out to the place to fill the water tank. As I was leaving the campground loop I was held up by two moose calves and their mother. At first I saw only the calves, and it was interesting and great to watch them eating leaves from the willow bushes. They were a little smaller than a typical horse. Then, WOW, the mother walked into view. She was HUGE! I enjoyed watching the three of them having their dinner before I had to go and complete my errands.