Denali To Do:
Tundra Wilderness Bus Tour to Denali
Black Bear Restaurant
Hike, canoe, raft and just about every outdoor activity you can imagine
On our second day in Alaska, we headed north from Anchorage toward Denali National Park, a drive through a breathtakingly beautiful landscape of snow capped mountains and stunning views.
There aren't many places to dine along this route, so packing your lunch is a good idea. I stopped at the Denali Brewing Company Tasting Room on the road to Talkeetna, a short detour off of Highway 1, where you can sample six of their brews.
As we approached the tiny town of Denali, we were treated to gorgeous views of the south side of the mountain.
Denali National Park has a single road and cars are usually only allowed to drive a few miles into the park. To get close to the mountain, you can either use the park's shuttle buses or take the day-long Tundra Wilderness bus tour with the park's exclusive concessionaire, Aramark, that takes you within 30 miles of the beautiful Mount Denali. The shuttle is best if you're looking to hike, but if you want to get a great view of the mountain, which isn't even visible from most of the roadway, it's best to take the tour. Book your seats in advance, though. Alaska's summer is short and these tours fill up.
We had amazing luck the day we went to the park. The air was crystal clear with not a cloud in the sky. Denali rises more than 20,000 feet above sea level and is often shrouded in clouds. But, the day we went, five hours into our bus ride, we were met with one of the most breathtaking views I've ever seen -- the stunning Denali.
Along the way, we were treated to sightings of bear, caribou, dawl sheep, and lots of smaller creatures. My only disappointment -- we never encountered a moose. I guess I'll have to go back again to fulfill that life dream!
Admiring Denali in my Berea shirt
Denali is a small town and pretty much a "tourist trap", albeit a rustic one, but we discovered a gem of a restaurant there -- the Black Bear Coffee House. Serving fair trade coffee, good breakfasts and healthy food including vegetarian selections, this is where we ate all our meals.
Because we only had a week in Alaska and wanted to see the Kenai Fjords, we headed south the next morning. But if you have more time, there are hikes, canoe and rafting trips, and lots of other great things to do in Denali.
I'll tell you about our amazing time in Seward on the Kenai peninsula in my next post!...
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