Natural History Tour into Denali

As we’d been told our tour was on an old school bus style bus. Remember those windows that you could open from the top by squeezing the release mechanism ? The window would then open 1/2 way so the top of the window was open but not the bottom. Sort of like a double hung window for a bus.  Well that’s the kind of windows we had. To take pictures you had to balance on the seat to get the window open and then either lean back (Still standing…sort of) or lean over the seat in front of you to get a shot with no window glass or frame in the way.

The bench seats had been replaced but that was the only change and it might have been easier to take pictures from the bench seats than the captain style. Each row of seats was placed so the frame of the window was right in the way.

Sandy and I settled in and I took the inside by the window. We’d been told that the bus would stop for wildlife and if it was safe, let us out to take pictures. In all the brochures you see the bus on the side of the road with the occupants standing outside watching the wildlife. We were about to discover that “art” and life were very different.

Once everyone was on our driver made a strange announcement. He said if we were on the tour to see wildlife then we were on the wrong bus. As far as I knew from chatting with the others on the tour, we all wanted to see wildlife. No one got off so I thought he must be kidding.

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He took a head count and we were on our way. Everyone’s eyes were peeled hoping to see animals. And we did begin spotting some. First up were moose.

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We spotted a couple making their way through the snow. One of them had a radio collar and she seemed to be struggling.

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At first we were all concerned until someone suggested that she might be about to give birth and that was why she was having trouble getting through the snow when the other moose was fine. I hope that was the case. It made everyone feel better anyway.

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We stopped at a rest area where 2 rangers gave a short presentation about the history of the area.

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One of them had a really vintage looking uniform and with his beard he was a ranger “poster boy”.

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We also got another chance to see Denali (Mt. McKinley) who was again cooperating with us.

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The “rest rooms ” were quite state of the art too.

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As we stopped at the ranger check point that was as far as cars could go we saw a little Alaskan ground squirrel. He stuck around for quite a few minutes so we all had a chance to get pictures. He’s a cute little fella, isn’t he.

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I also spotted a grouse, in fact several, but they blended in with the brush and were so quick to hide that I didn’t get a picture . The bus was moving and if I’d yelled stop they would have been out of sight before he could hit the brakes.

There were more sea gulls flying around. Seemed strange so far from the sea. But it was time to turn around and head back to the lodge.

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0 Responses to Natural History Tour into Denali

  1. Hey! We used those restrooms :). I am so excited for you, except for all that snow laying around. It must have been a mini culture shock to come home and see green grass that needed mowing and flowers blooming. I loved the story of how they had to “build” that road into the reserve, using insulators and drainage pipes etc. Did he share that with you? We had a different guide, but same type of bus. Most rugged!

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Darn Our bus driver didn’t share that! Except for about 5 days we’ve had rain since I got back. Sandy wants to know if we brought the rain forest back with us. A week after we left all the ice was melted from Lake Mendenhall. What I couldn’t get over was how warm it got even with the snow. By noon it was high 60’s and I ditched my jacket for T-shirts. Did you do the 3 hour tour or the longer tour farther into the park?

      • We did the 8 hour tour, from 6:30- 3ish, although we saw most of our wildlife early in the tour, and not much but wonderful rock colors and formations and the lay of the land further in.

        • Dusty Roads says:

          We did the 3 hour tour 11- 2ish. Later we heard that the 8 hour tour had seen tons of animals and had grizzlies right up to the bus. I suppose it all depends of where the animals choose to be. They don’t care what our plans and schedules are 🙂