When Corrie suggested taking a bus ride into Wonder Lake (located deep within the Denali National Park) I was excited. Then I saw the cost of the bus ticket to ride to Wonder Lake (it's the part of the park that only buses can access) and was hesitant. However, I'm glad we decided to do it. Thank you Corrie for knowing what you were talking about... I shouldn't have doubted you.
The bus driver was kind enough to stop whenever we saw wildlife so we could take pictures. On the way in, we had our own caribou guides directing traffic.
Later they decided to take off down towards the river.
Thoughout the trip we'd see other caribou. Can you spot them in these 2 pictures?
The roads were really narrow and it's amazing that the buses were able to pass each other along these narrow roads. Some of them winding around cliffs without any kind of guard rail or support.
First stop was Teklanika Rest Stop. The bathrooms were ok... the scenery was beyond beautiful.
Eva and I agreed we wouldn't mind having this as a backyard view for our home. And this is a foggy day at the park.
Stop #2 was the Polychrome Overlook. This area allowed us a few hiking opportunities. Something to note since it's probably not commonly known is that at Denali there are very few hiking trails at each destination. The purpose of this is to make sure that the natural landscape and environment remained as intact as possible. So if I mention that I hiked about every trail available at each stop... don't be too impressed. Most people were able to hike those within the allotted time. In this case, 15 minutes.
Stop #3 was the Toklat River Rest Stop. There we got a view of the Toklat River and a break from the winding and narrow roads along the mountain edges.
They also had a few antlers for the tourists (aka- me). Remember the caribou we saw previously... this is how large their antlers are. And let me tell you... they were extremely heavy. It was really hard to get them up on my head.
I can be a shameless tourist.... just ask my husband.... he's the one with the moose antler. (Again... really heavy... not that I tried or anything).
Next my fellow online passengers, we made a stop at the Eilson Visitors Center. There they had more educational activities.... and antlers. (These were as tall as me... possible as heavy too... definitely made me think I need to work on my weightlifting).
As look at this bear hide. Check out the size of this bear's claws.
We got 45 minutes at this stop so again we hiked the surrounding trails with Eva, Eric, and their son Simon.
According to the visual inside the Eilson Visitor Center on a clear day we should be looking directly at Mount McKinley... the highest point in the United States.
Clearly it was not a clear day. It should be back behind those mountains. And we should be able to see lots of snow and a large glacier.
According to the park only 30% of visitors to Denali National Park can actually SEE Mount McKinley. The remaining 70% are typically unable to see it due to smoke from distant wildfires, fog, or cloudy weather.
Next and final stop.... WONDER LAKE!