Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Fairbanks#9 - Denali national park tourist bus trip

We had always taken all the recommended safety precautions for travelling and camping in bear country: when camping we stored our food in bear barrels or hang it up 5 meters high between 2 trees away from the tent, we cooked away from the tent and made sure we had no food products or other smelly items in the tent, and we carried bear spray with us. However, we never saw any sign of or heard any bears. We travelled along the more remote Dalton and Denali highways, no bears, we paddled in Prince William Sound, no bears. We started wondering if there were any bears in Alaska at all! On our very last weekend in Alaska we decided to take the tourist bus into Denali national park as a last chance to see a bear in Alaska. I had booked the early morning bus at 5 am, so we drove down to the park the night before and slept a few hours in the car in the carpark. It started promising, we spotted a black bear crossing the road just when we pulled into the carpark in the middle of the night. And the bus trip was very good too: we saw a lynx, red fox, moose, caribou, dall sheep, several grizzly bears (amongst others 2 mothers each with 2 cubs), several ptarmigans, and Denali showed herself in all her white glory. A beautiful, but very long day.

Male grizzly bear foraging on the braided river bed.

Sign chewed by grizzly bears.

Braided rivers coming from the Alaska Range.

The Denali Park road, a bit nerve-racking when 2 busses meet and you sit next to the outside window...

Ptarmigan family along the road.

Mt Denali.

A bus load of tourist admiring the view of Mt Denali.


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