After our lovely bout in Juneau, we headed towards Denali via the Fairbanks route.
We had a couple days to spare, so we hung out in Fairbanks awhile. I had my first Fred Meyer’s experience. Seriously, we sort of lived there during our time in Fairbanks- it was like that movie Where the Heart Is with Natalie Portman. Good ol’ Freddie kept us coming back for everything from mosquito lanterns to sushi.
We found a couple of cool coffee shops, we went to the movie theatre one last time, but mostly, we were ready to reach our final destination.
So fiiiiiinally we made our way to the Denali National Park entrance.
Upon arrival we checked out the Mt. Healy hike right near the Visitor Center. It led us up, up, up to our first panoramic view of the area.
Our first impression of the park was graced by abundant sunshine and clear blue skies.
Thankfully, it lasted through our drive into the park the next day, too. One thing I’m really learning about this place is that the weather is absolutely unpredictable. It can be sunny and warm one minute and hailing the next. So two days in a row of perfect weather is awesome- especially when you’re driving through the park.
Denali has one 93 mile road in it, and this one road is inaccessible to private vehicles. There are really only two ways for visitors to get into the park: by tour bus or by airplane.
The latter option is the reason we came to Denali in the first place. The aim of our three week road trip was to reach Kantishna Air Taxi, the one and only air taxi service within the Denali park boundary.
At this point in the beginning of the summer season, we needed to get all our belongings into the park with us so driving in was the ideal entrance strategy. Since Jake and I are employees of Kantishna Air Taxi, we were able to score a vehicle permit to drive the Tundra through the tundra and into the park!
For the 4 hours it took to reach Kantishna, we had the road mostly all to ourselves.
Mostly, that is, besides the caribou, dahl sheep, and bear we ran into.
We were lucky to have seen so much wildlife. The Dahl Sheep right around Polychrome were neat-o.
Not long after, we turned a corner and happened upon this Grizzly. He gave us a perfect little show, first walking right in front of our vehicle then turning around and sauntering back across the road. Even from inside the car, my stomach felt a bit fluttery knowing how quick and powerful these bears are and how close we actually were to one.
And as we drove deeper into the park, Mount McKinley shone in all its glory. Due to wildfire smoke and weather, it’s not every day that views like this one can be had.
Our introduction to the park was a positive one, indeed. After a long haul north from Malibu, we made it to our final destination. Kantishna, perfectly settled at “the end of the road” in Denali National Park, received us as it’s newest occupants.
Home sweet home!