Denali and surrounds

Denali National Park and Preserve is a huge national park, somewhere around 6 million acres. Although some hiking is allowed in the park, there aren’t a lot of trails, so a lot of people take these tour buses along the central road through the park. Our bus driver/naturalist had a voice that reminded me of old filmstrip documentaries we would watch in grade school. A little soporific. We took an 8 hour trip, and we saw Dall sheep, caribou, grizzly bears, moose, a fox, hares, ptarmigans, owls, magpies, and other denizens of the woods, taiga, and tundra. The park was founded to save the Dall sheep, a kind of wild sheep that lives way up on the crests of mountains. We saw lots of them from a distance, with lambs prancing about. My simple camera wasn’t up to taking photos of most of the wildlife, but I managed to get a few (somewhat fuzzy) snaps.

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Talkeetna and the south side of Denali

The next stop was Talkeetna, which is apparently the town on which the TV show Northern Exposure was based (it’s a great show, in case you haven’t seen it). Talkeetna has the best views of the south side of Denali, which is the Dena’ina name for Mt. McKinley. From left to right, the peaks are Foraker, Hunter, and Denali:

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Kenai Fjords and Aialik Glacier

The Kenai Fjords National Park is mostly inaccessible by land — there’s not much in the way of hiking, and a lot of it is occupied by the Harding Icefield, which is a gigantic sheet of ice out of which several glaciers flow. To see the park you need to take a boat into the fjords. We went around the Aialik peninsula to see the Aialik Glacier. We saw lots of Steller sea lions, bald eagles, tufted and horned puffins, harbor seals, a black bear or two, mountain goats, porpoises, and other birds whose names I forget. The sea otters kept their distance so it was hard to see them up close. The ocean was a bit choppy so most of my photos came out a bit blurry, but I managed to snap a shot of some Steller sea lions hauled out on a rock:

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