Denali: big and beautiful

Almost the first thing we encountered pulling into Denali was a motorcycle plastered with stickers from the Americas and laden down with lots of stuff. This bike had clearly been driven through the Americas and we wanted to talk to it’s rider. This was our first overlander encounter. We did get an opportunity to chat with him. He gave us his overlander card and we made a mental note to make one of our own. He then shared a french toast breakfast with us huddled under our tarps in our rainy and a little chilly camp.

The only way to access Denali is on a bus, so the next morning we got on the first 6:15 am bus. The theory was that there would be more wildlife sitings if we went earlier because there would be no buses ahead of us to scare them away. We did see a lot of wildlife later in the day, but what we were greeted with was snow and frigid temperatures. Wasn’t this August? I layered up and withstood the cold, which was a good thing. The park and in particularly Mount McKinley (highest point in North America) did not disappoint.

We decided against any backcountry camping because a man had just been killed by a bear a few days before we arrived. The man did not keep his distance and paid dearly for the mistake. There are really no trails in Denali. It’s big, it’s open, and don’t think you climb a tree because there are none. Fellow visitors reported the hiking to be slow going because the ground is soft and wet. I don’t want to discourage hiking the park though. I expect there are some pretty breathtaking views if you’re willing to cowboy up.