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.

Willow Ptarmigan:
Willow Ptarmigan

Very fuzzy owl chicks:
Fuzzy wuzzy owl chicks

Arctic ground squirrel. These guys are basically posing for you. They are total hams.
Arctic Ground Squirrel

Of course, a grizzly bear. This bear ended up meandering over to a rest area where we were stopped, so we had to get on to the bus and head out before he got there. Here’s a bear behind:
A Bear Behind

And here’s the front:
Fuzzy bear up close

There was also flora. In particular, the yellow Shrubby Cinquefoil (or Tundra Rose) and white Mountain Aven. The real summer hasn’t hit yet, so the tundra flowers are not quite out yet:
Shrubby Cinquefoil
Mountain Aven

Of course, the real scene-stealer is the scenery out here in Alaska. At some places in the park the scenery looked almost painted:
The painted landscape in Denali

Later on we took a short hike to Horseshoe Lake, which reflected the blue sky quite nicely:
Reflections in Horseshoe Lake

Finally, the train back to Anchorage passes over Hurricane Gulch, which is a pretty impressive overpass from which you can view a creek feeding into the Chulitna River:
View from Hurricane Gulch

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