Tag Archives: Alaska

A Day-to-Day Guide to the Alaska Highway

How to Drive it in 6 Days at a Moderate Pace

So…  you are thinking seriously about going after the Road Trip of a Lifetime… and maybe you are having anxiety issues thinking about all that could happen.

I’ve said this before: Yukon Do It!

When Kaye and I made our epic journey towing our 28-foot fifth wheel, we had our copy of Mileposts and our paper maps in the truck cab and referred to them constantly… and everything went just fine.  We didn’t have any problems, going or coming.

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Our first camp north of the border was at Chilliwack, BC

But it would have been so much easier if we had had the piece I am writing for you right now —  a daily guide that would connect the dots from Point A to Point B each day.  Well here it is.

Before You Start.

First of all, make sure your vehicles are in good condition.  Have a mechanic replace any worn belts or hoses and change the oil in your tow vehicle.  Tires should be in like-new condition all the way around with a good spare on hand.

Take a supply of cash along with your credit cards which may or may not work at some road houses.  There are ATM’s in a few spots along the way delivering Canadian currency, of course.

Get used to navigating without your cellphone.  You are not likely to have service except in a few towns.  Weak wifi can be found at a few RV parks so each night you can plot your map apps for the next day (GPS may work when wifi doesn’t).

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Getting to Mile Zero

The official Alaska Highway begins at Dawson Creek in northern British Columbia.  When we did it we had to drive 1,900 miles from Ventura, California and it took us 8 days.  Just to get to the START of the Alcan.  We stayed at Northern Lights RV Park on the hill west of the town of Dawson Creek.

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The official start of the Alaska Highway, mile zero.

Day 1:  Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson.  282 miles.

Stock up on provisions before leaving Dawson Creek; you won’t find another good market for several days.

Fill the tank, then drive your first 101 miles to the Esso at Wonowon, BC.  Fill up again.

Drive 181 miles over easy hills and through forests on wide open highway to Fort Nelson. We chose the Triple G RV park for our overnight.  The power grid ends at Fort Nelson.

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We passed roadhouses that had been closed, some for a very long time.

Day 2:  Fort Nelson to Coal River (or Watson Lake)  225 (or 319) miles

Fill up the tank and head uphill from Fort Nelson.  You will be topping a high pass a couple of hours in; remember to engine brake – downshift to second gear – on the downgrades to save your brakes.  This section takes awhile if you are towing a heavy rig; your speed will be down to 35 MPH on winding mountain roads.

At 118 miles stop at Toad River for fuel… and lunch if you want.

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The restaurant at Toad River Lodge has 6,800 baseball caps on the ceiling!

Drive another 107 miles to Coal River Lodge, Muncho Lake BC, a lonely outpost in the wilderness.  Basic services are available including diesel fuel and at the restaurant inside, their signature buffalo burger at a ridiculous price (everything north of Dawson Creek will be expensive).  There is a bare bones campground with 20-amp electricity and a laundromat – all run from a generator onsite.

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We had the campground to ourselves at Coal River Lodge for the night.
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The pies and the buffalo burgers were all home cooked by Donna at Coal River Lodge.

We found friendly owners and had a great time at Coal River, but not everybody will like the spartan accommodations that haven’t been upgraded since the place was built in the 1940’s.  If it is not to your liking, fuel up and head for the Downtown RV Park at Watson Lake another 101 miles.

Day 3:  Coal River to White Horse, Yukon Territory.  359 miles

Fuel up.  This is a more ambitious jaunt, with two stops.  First drive 101 miles to Watson Lake  (if you didn’t go there last night).  Tour the Sign Forest in the middle of town and fuel up at the Tags station at the west end of town where there is a deli with deep fried delights and a little store.  You will be criss-crossing the BC/YT border a couple of times today.

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We added our sign to 70,000 others at the Sign Forest at Watson Lake, YT.

Drive on through the forests and hills to Teslin where you can fuel up again at the Yukon Motel & Restaurant (ATM) or Mesutlin Trading Post.  Then on to White Horse and the Pioneer RV Park where you might get wifi.

If you have any mechanical issues, you might find help in White Horse.

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The road mostly follows the valleys between the mountains and is a relatively easy drive.

Day 4:  White Horse to White River.  249 miles

Fuel up and head west to Haines Junction.  We experienced some awful roads and construction in this section, but maybe it is all fixed by now.

Fuel up again and continue to White River and the Yukon Lodgings Campground which is easy to miss on the left after a bend in the road in the middle of nowhere.  There is no town (keep an eye on your mileage and watch for it).  If you come out of the woods and cross a river and come to Beaver Creek, you just passed it; maybe just stay at Beaver Creek where there is a motel and an almost RV park. Basically a parking lot.

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There is no end of beautiful scenery along the Alaska Highway.

Day 5:  White River YT  to Delta Junction AK.  249 miles

Fuel up at Beaver Creek, then head across the U.S. border and at 142 miles stop at Tok.  Fuel up at Chevron or Shell or Tesoro.

Head west to Delta Junction another 107 miles and maybe camp at the Alaska RV Ranch.

Congratulation!  You have just completed the official Alaska Highway, approximately 1,365 miles!

However, you are still in the middle of nowhere.  So…

Day 6:  Delta Junction to Denali National Park.  244 miles (through Fairbanks AK)

If you go southwest through Anchorage, add another 100 or so miles.

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The Alaska Range escorts you toward Fairbanks.  You don’t have to drive over those mountains.

At Fairbanks or Anchorage, stock up on provisions at the Fred Meyer store, because everything at Glitter Gulch (the tourist village a mile from the entrance of Denali National Park) will cost at least TWICE the price and many items will not be available at all!

Congrats again, and check this off your bucket list!  You have covered the Alaska Highway – and beyond, a distance of 1,580 miles (by way of Fairbanks).

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Two dozen shops, outfitters and eateries line the boardwalk at “Glitter Gulch”.

We stayed at Rainbow Village RV Park behind the row of log cabin shops on the east side of the highway in Glitter Gulch (affectionately called “the Canyon” by the locals).  It is not actually an incorporated municipality so your map app won’t find it.  Try searching for Healy, a small town north of the Canyon a few miles, or try Denali National Park; you’ll only be off by a mile.

We stayed about six weeks, hiking and biking around the area and venturing into Denali National Park for hiking and sightseeing.  Then we took 11 days to make the return trip down to Lincoln Nebraska, then home to Michigan a few days later.  We covered about 7,500 miles over all.

Now you only have to make it back down!

So are you going to do it?

I would love to know what you are thinking.  Let me know in the comments below.

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Denali – the mountain – is still 90 miles away.  Take the park bus for a closer look.

Disclaimer:  Though I have done my best to update and verify this information since our own trip, things can change from season to season along the Alaska Highway.  (We found that even the Mileposts resource was inaccurate at a couple of points.)  You are responsible for your safety and accommodations on this road trip of a lifetime!

Have fun!

12 Wild Places Where I Have Spent the Night… in no particular order

For a guy who has spent much of his life on one adventure after another, this could be a really long list.  To narrow it down, I will post only my favorites…. and tell why they have special appeal to me.  Since I am a quiet laid-back guy, most of these are away from the crowds and the noise of the popular parks and resorts.

Valley of the Gods, Utah.

The desert landscape is remarkable enough; it is an extension of the iconic Monument Valley Tribal Park a few miles away.  But when the sun sets you discover you are in Dark Sky country.  The Milky Way is dazzling above and hanging over the nearby cliffs.

My free campsite was just below a huge butte and there wasn’t a level spot to park, so I drove onto some rocks to level the camper for the night.  Complete solitude.  And almost unnerving silence.

Valley of Gods pickup campsite crop

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Bob V.O.G. Milky Way corner fix 2

 

Hole-In-The-Rock Road, Escalante, Utah

After spending a rainy afternoon at Devil’s Garden, I drove a couple of miles farther down the washboard road and found a flat spot on the open prairie across from Dinosaur Tracks road.  This is boon docking – no facilities.  No problem, I am self-contained with the truck camper.  And all alone for the night.

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On a rainy day at Devil’s Garden near Escalante, Utah, I was glad not to be camping in a tent.

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Pacific Coast Highway, Seacliff, California

It is hard to find places where one can camp on the beach.  Especially on the west coast.  This park is two miles long and about 20 feet wide.  Everybody gets a 40-foot-long space to park for the night and our rig fit exactly from bumper to bumper.   You can walk the beach for miles.  No hookups.  Again, no problem.

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Coal River Lodge, Coal River, Yukon Territory

I think this was one of the most remote campsites we ever stayed at on our epic trek along the Alaska Highway.  At Milepost 533, Coal River is one of the original Roadhouses built to accommodate the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942-1943 and is beyond the reach of the electric grid.  They were generating their own power while we were there.  We had the campground to ourselves with hookups to water and electricity.

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Denali Canyon “Glitter Gulch”, Parks Highway, Alaska

After driving up from southern California, we were fortunate to find a campsite at the Rainbow Village RV Park right behind the coffee shop where our daughter was working every summer.  We stayed half the summer, biking the canyon and hiking the ridges and peaks surrounding the village.  A highlight was backcountry hiking with two of my daughters inside Denali National Park.

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The RV was nestled snugly behind the row of log cabin tourist shops, a great base of operations.

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Wendi could write her own story about “wild” places she has stayed the night.  She spent 12 summers in a row in this dry cabin near Denali.

 

Dauphin Island, Alabama

One winter we set out to camp only on islands where we could walk the beaches all winter long.  Dauphin Island was our choice for the month of January and we were camped in the woods a short walk from the gulf beach and historic Fort Gaines.

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The beaches along the Gulf are white sand.  Dolphins cavort just offshore.

Dauphin Island campsite

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Fort Gaines surrendered to the Union Navy during the Civil War.

 

South Manitou Island, Leland, Michigan

This is one of my favorite backpacking spots that’s not far from my home in Michigan.  The island is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and is run by the NPS.  It is entirely covered with hardwood forests or perched sand dunes.  The extensive network of hiking trails can thoroughly exhaust even the most hearty of souls.  As a lifelong adventure sport director, I have been there several times with groups of kids.

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Hobo dinners are wrapped in foil and cooked directly on the campfire.  No pans, no grill, no problem.

 

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The Cove, Samana, Dominican Republic

What I liked about our winter vacation rental on the beach was not the infinity pool or the air-conditioned condo, but the close interaction with the natives.  Many resorts are isolated and walled away from the locals meaning you miss a lot of the indigenous flavor.  Our beach was shared with the fishermen and their kids.  We were able to walk to the local tienda for a cold Coke and provisions for cooking our own meals.  Local shuttles would take us to the nearest village for a few cents.

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Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington, Michigan

The lighthouse is staffed by teams of volunteers who spend two weeks living in the original light keepers’ quarters and running the gift shop, museum and tower which is open for a fews hours every day.  The rest of the time we are free to hike the dunes or splash in the refreshing waters of Lake Michigan.

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Volunteers take turns preparing meals for each other in the old kitchen.  Also the best place to get wifi.

 

Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin, Michigan

We used to live about an hour’s drive from this park so we got to know it pretty well.  One of our favorite things was when we were lucky enough to get one of the campsites that are right on the shore with our rear bumper almost hanging over the beach.  The water is shallow and stays warm in the fall so we would often wait till after Labor Day when the kids were back in school and there was plenty of elbow room in the park.

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Sierra Madre Mountains Trek, Central Mexico

I usually avoid the resorts when I want an authentic experience and hiking in the mountains of Mexico is one I have been able to do several times.  Usually I have been directing a group of youths on a cross-cultural experience.  The organic nature of this kind of adventure means that we eat the local foods and use the local outhouses. –  if there are outhouses.  Fun!

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Redwoods National Park, California

Okay, I have spent the night in at least 15 of the most amazing national parks.  That could be a list all of its own.  But the Redwoods were so remarkable I had to mention them.  We pulled into a deserted county park in the redwood forest late at night and weaved our way between the giant trees that showed in the headlights.  We found a spot to set up the tents and went to sleep.  Climbing out of the tents in the morning, we were rendered speechless at the fantasy land that surrounded us.  Nothing tops this.  Huge!

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Well, this listing is just a sampling of the wild places where I have stayed.  It makes me sad to leave out a whole bunch of wonderful places.  Maybe I should  write a Part Two including Glacier National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the over-water bungalow in the Maldive Islands…  and so on.

I would be interested in hearing about a wild place you have stayed in the comments below.  Do tell!

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Note:  Header photo at the top is Butler Wash, Bluff, Utah, banked by cliffs on both sides and sheltering many ancient cliff dwellings nestled on the ledges and alcoves.

If Variety is the Spice of Life, I am a Well-Seasoned Soul

I have been skinny-dipping at night immersed in the glowing bioluminescence of an island lagoon in the Indian Ocean (Sorry, no photo).  Green “sparks” darted in all directions when I splashed my arms in the warm tropical water.

I have crawled around in the “wild” (non-commercial) caves of Southern Indiana and played fluorescent frisbee in the Monument Room, a cavern the length of a football field and over a mile from the entrance of Buckners Cave.

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Some of my sixth-graders posed in the Monument Room of Buckner’s Cave.

I have been frightened by the steep descent on the edge of the cliffs after topping Summit Pass heading across the Yukon Territory on the Alaska Highway, my 3-1/2-ton RV pushing me toward the sharp turn and the cold lake below the drop-off at the bottom of the grade, second gear engine braking all the way.  Whew!

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I guess I am one of those restless people who can’t sit still for too long before needing a change of scenery.  For most of my life I satisfied by wanderlust with summer camping trips and weekend getaways.  Later, Kaye and I took to the road full-time.

My kids loved all that “variety” and became world travelers.  And now my grandkids are getting a chance to experience the great wonders that our amazing world has to offer.

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I hope you are following your dreams – and the open road, if that’s part of it for you.

Have fun and be safe!

The Denali Back Alley

Milepost 9-2-14

“And where are you from?”  It is usually the first thing that comes out of anybody’s mouth as they are meeting someone new in Alaska, and all along the Alaska Highway, for that matter.  It seems that everybody there is from somewhere else.

Oklahoma, Ontario, Florida, Washington, California, Ukraine, Bulgaria.  We met people from all over the world.  But we only saw a few native Americans – or First Nation – as they are called in Alaska.

Wendi is a shift manager at the popular Black Bear Coffee House on the boardwalk.
Wendi is a shift manager at the popular Black Bear Coffee House on the boardwalk.

Our destination in Alaska was the Denali area because our daughter and son-in-law have lived and worked there every summer for the last nine years.  Wendi is a barista and shift manager at the popular Black Bear Coffee House, and Scott runs their adventure outfitter, Denali Adventure Tours.  The two shops are  located on the boardwalk in McKinley Park about 200 feet apart with about ten shops between the two.

Scott and Wendi own Denali Adventure Tours and supply the tourists with adventure trips from whitewater rafting to fly-overs of McKinley.
Scott and Wendi own Denali Adventure Tours and supply the tourists with adventure trips from whitewater rafting to fly-overs of McKinley.

Rainbow Village, the RV park where we stayed, was right behind the row of shops, a virtual parking lot with utility hookups.  It was really handy to the back doors of the shops and helped us to see the back story of the lives of the seasonal workers, an intriguing sub-culture.

These young seasonal workers at the coffee house are all from somewhere in the lower 48 states.
These young seasonal workers at the coffee house are all from somewhere in the lower 48 states.

The village completely shuts down in the wintertime, so everybody has to go somewhere else.  Many of the workers get seasonal jobs elsewhere in the country, or like Scott, they are students or teachers at universities.  Wendi gets a temp job where they live in California during the  winter.  One of the pilots at Denali Air flies shuttles in the Philippines every winter, so he works the tourist industry in two hemispheres.

Pilot Bob flies tourists over Denali in the summer - and over the ocean in the Philippines during the winter.
Pilot Bob flies tourists over Denali in the summer – and over the ocean in the Philippines during the winter.

It was fun for us to stay at Denali for more than five weeks so we had time to get acquainted with Scott and Wendi’s friends and learn a bit about their lives at both ends, the summer at Denali and the other three seasons somewhere else in the world.

Kaye talks with Michelle, a shop owner from Toronto, about how she ended up in Alaska.
Kaye talks with Michelle, a shop owner from Ontario, about how she ended up in Alaska.

It’s a transient life for those guys, and I think we understand it a lot more now that we have lived on the road for the last seven months, covering 10,000 miles of contrasting geography from the Great Plains to the deserts of the Southwest to mountains of the west coast and western Canada.

Waking up every morning we have to look around and see where we are to get a sense of location.  The seasonal workers must have to often think about where they are at the dawn of every new day.  It’s an interesting way to live.  We loved getting behind the scenes while we were there.

Scott and Wendi live in a 10'x12' dry cabin during their summers up north.
Scott and Wendi live in a 10’x12′ dry cabin in the forest during their summers in Alaska.
Head space and elbow room are limited in the little cabins.
Head space and elbow room are limited in the little cabins.
The workers come to the "cook shack" for their meals which are prepared by a hired chef.
The workers come to the “cook shack” for their meals which are prepared by a hired chef.
"Cooky" makes sure everybody is well-fed with bountiful balanced meals
Bijan makes sure everybody is well-fed with bountiful balanced meals.
Keith is a performer at one of the dinner theaters...  and a salesman at a gift shop during the day.  He's from Washington D.C.
Keith is a performer at one of the dinner theaters (the beard is part of his stage persona)…  and he’s a salesman at a gift shop during the day. He’s from Washington D.C.
These performers stayed in small bunk rooms with common restrooms... down the hall or out in back.
These performers share small bunk rooms with common restrooms… down the hall or out in back.
Shop owners Andrea and Brandon are from Anchorage and Michigan but now spend their winters in Arizona.
Shop owners Andrea and Brandon are from Anchorage and Michigan but now spend their winters in Arizona.
Scott enjoys the view of McKinley Park and Mt. Healy from the front door of Denali Adventure Tours.
Kaye and Scott enjoy the view of McKinley Park and Mt. Healy from the front door of Denali Adventure Tours.
Get your adventure fix from Scott when you are in the Denali area.
Get your adventure fix from Scott when you are in the Denali area.

So everybody’s from somewhere.  Kaye and I had a great time this summer  discovering the back stories on our kids’ friends and fellow workers at McKinley Park near Denali National Park and Preserve.

 

Go Climb a Mountain

Milepost 7-7-14    McKinley Park, Alaska

“Climbing a mountain” is a figurative expression that is used to acknowledge the presence of a monumental challenge, something that we know will be difficult. It could be something like pursuing a college degree or quitting smoking or any of a thousand other tough quests.
For us three years ago, it was the process of downsizing and moving out of our house of 40 years so we could move into an RV and pursue life on the road. It was truly monumental.

This was the climb of a lifetime for me, the summit of the Mt. Healy Overlook.
This was the climb of a lifetime for me, the summit of the Mt. Healy Overlook.

But yesterday, “climbing a mountain” was not figurative language for me but an actual event.  After a couple weeks of consideration and a practice run at it, I took on the challenge of the difficult hiking trail to the Mt. Healy Overlook.   A week before, I had hiked the first half of it then turned back, deciding it was too strenuous. Finally, I was able to view the first attempt as conditioning for yesterday’s ultimate climb. And it worked; I made it to the top, a vertical climb of 1,700 feet over 2.3 miles!  In fact, I cut a bit of time off the predicted duration of 4 to 5 hours for the round trip.

At higher elevations this trail didn't appear to be much more than a mountain goat path.
At higher elevations this trail didn’t appear to be much more than a mountain goat path.

Arriving back in the canyon in the late afternoon, I went to see Scott at Denali Adventure Tours to update him on the details of the climb (Yes, I decided that the steep trail would be more accurately described as a “climb” rather than a hike).   That’s when I discovered that my first information ranking the difficulty of the climb as “moderate” was bad intel.  Sure enough, Scott’s vast encyclopedia of adventure knowledge pegged that trail as “strenuous”.   Now I could believe that!
As I had been scrambling over large boulders on the upper slopes I had heard myself grumbling under my breath about the guy who must have ranked the trail without ever climbing it. “Only a 16-year-old athlete would call this a “moderate” hike!” I fumed.

Having brought along their camp stove, these climbers rewarded themselves with a hot meal at the summit.
Having brought along their camp stove, these climbers rewarded themselves with a hot meal at the summit.

In terms of “Climbing a mountain”, this one was the real thing! The truth is, I would definitely not have taken on that climb if I had known up front what a grueling challenge I was in for.  But now that I’ve done it, I’m happy about it…  and happy to still be alive!

Here are more photos of my adventure:

The climbers swapped cameras to photographically document their accomplishment.
The climbers swapped cameras to document their climbing accomplishment with photographs.

Climbers at the Mt. Healy summit

Wow, the trail on the ridge leads into the distance.  I'd love to follow it, but not this time.
Wow, the trail on the ridge leads into the distance. I’d love to follow it, but don’t have any strength left…  and there’s still the descent ahead of me.
Mt. Healy beckons from across the canyon from Denali Adventure Tours where owner and answer man, Scott, takes it all in.
Mt. Healy beckons from across the canyon where Denali Adventure Tours  owner and answer man, Scott, enjoys the panorama.

What is your next mountain that needs climbing?

 

Rock and Snow – Mt. McKinley Fly-By

Milepost 7-1-14   Mt. McKinley, Alaska

“Tree line is at 3,000 feet,” said our pilot, Dan.  “Above 7,000 feet there’s just rock and snow.”  We had just taken off in a little 8-seater plane for a fly-by of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the North American continent, and Dan was already sharing his comprehensive knowledge of the mountain geography, naming rivers, glaciers and mountains as we skimmed over snow-capped peaks on a bee-line for Denali.

An aerial view of the Polychrome Mountains also reveals a distance glimpse of the Parks Highway on the other side of the valley.
An aerial view of the Polychrome Mountains also reveals a distant glimpse of the Parks Highway skirting the other side of the valley.

At first there was a lot of color as we climbed out of the dark green forest, but before long there was only snow and rocky cliffs, sure enough.  There were glaciers by the dozen, some of them perched in hanging valleys, others stretching into the distance like long wide rivers of ice.

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Mountains with glacier

Our flight took us delightfully close to the jagged peaks as Dan zig-zagged his way between spires and pinnacles all along the way.  We soon reached Mount McKinley itself, a huge, disorganized heap of rock with all sorts of cliffs and mounds facing in all directions and several glaciers oozing from its high canyons and valleys.Denali glacierHigh peak near DenaliPretty soon we made a wide banking turn over a massive glacier and headed back through the dizzying maze of peaks as Dan pointed out a trail across a snow field left by the last team of climbers on the mountain.  I wondered how they knew where it was safe to cross; I was seeing dozens of crevasses from the air.Denali crevasses

Eldridge glacier is 35 miles long and hundred of feet thick.
Eldridge glacier is 35 miles long and hundreds of feet thick.

Mountains

This flight to the Mountain was certainly the pinnacle of my Alaska experience.  We are just about halfway through our summer in the land of the midnight sun and realizing that it is such a vast area that we will not get to see everything; there is just no way.Denali glacier verticle

Seeing it from the air certainly covers a lot of territory in a short time.  Maybe I’ll get to catch another flight around the Mountain before my time is up here.   What a natural high!

Dan was my pilot on Denali Air.
Dan does a great job as pilot and owner of the flight-seeing company, Denali Air.

 My flight was arranged by my son-in-law, Scott, the owner of Denali Adventure Tours.  It’s just one of many adventure trips they provide.

(Click on any of the photos in this post to see a larger view.)

The Alaska Vibe

Milepost 6-23-14   Denali Park, Alaska

We have been at Denali for a few days now and are enjoying the international flavor of the tourist scene.  Not only are the tourists from every place you can imagine, so are the seasonal workers.  We are camped right behind the ice cream shop where several Bulgarians are working this summer.  It’s one store in a long line-up of services offered along the boardwalk, from souvenirs to adventure trips to salmon bakes and pizza.

My daughter has worked 9 years as a barista and manager at the Black Bear Coffee House on the boardwalk at Denali.
My daughter has worked for 9 years as a barista and manager at the Black Bear Coffee House on the boardwalk at Denali.
Scott and Wendi own Denali Adventure Tours and supply the tourists with adventure trips from whitewater rafting to fly-overs of McKinley.
Scott and Wendi own Denali Adventure Tours and supply the tourists with adventure trips from whitewater rafting to fly-overs of McKinley.

Any day on the boardwalk or the campground we may hear an assortment of languages spoken, from German to Japanese to Russian.

Not only are the inhabitants of this community a very diverse bunch, so are the sights and surroundings of the area.

This morning I went for a bike ride through the canyon where the whitewater rafters and kayakers venture, while on the high bluff above a train went by loaded with sightseers, and a helicopter took off to fly over the ridge to a glacier landing in the next valley.

Bikers, kayakers, bus and train and plane sightseers may all be seen in the same panorama.
I biked through the canyon of the Nenana River where the whitewater rafters do their stuff.

It is a delightfully eclectic mix of sights and scenes here, that makes every day interesting in its own way.  It is very much unlike our environment in Michigan.  Even the wildlife is foreign to us.  We haven’t seen a whitetail deer in months, but yesterday were up close and personal to the caribou in the Denali high country.  Weird.

The hiking trails in the area offer close-up encounters with caribou, mountain sheep, moose, bears and more.
The hiking trails in the area offer close-up encounters with caribou, mountain sheep, moose, bears and more.

Summer solstice was a new experience for us, with a beautiful sunset after midnight that didn’t turn into nighttime…  the sun skimmed along sidewise just behind the mountain ridge and then came back up at around 3 am!

Nighttime never came at our little town at Denali on summer solstice.
Nighttime never came at our little town at Denali on summer solstice.

Every morning when I wake up I have to remind myself where I am… or just look out a window and let the mountains above the RV park do it for me.

I finally got to photograph Mt. McKinley yesterday – from 75 miles away with a telephoto lens!  I’m hoping to get closer on a flight-seeing trip sometime in the next few weeks.

Mt. McKinley (Denali) from a distance of 75 miles on the Parks Road.
Mt. McKinley (Denali) from a distance of 75 miles on the Parks Road.

So the Alaska vibe is a very eclectic one.  I’d say that if variety is the spice of life, the flavor of Denali is seasoned to perfection.  Great fun!