Current News – We continued our intensive tour of the amazing national parks of Utah with Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands as well as some lesser known state parks Goblin Valley, Red Canyon and Valley of Fire. We have so many photos from these alone it will be hard to choose when we eventually come to blog them.
From here our journey took us south to Monument valley, we arrived as a storm blew in but the campground was closed for renovations. Our luck turned however as we were allowed to spend the night in a Navaho Hogan. Hogan’s are traditional homes made from logs covered in mud mixed with bark, there are male and female Hogan’s and both were represented in the park. We were exceedingly honoured to spend the night in the male one and enjoyed a lovely fire while the roaring winds whistled outside.
Having found that another bad storm was forecast for the coming weekend we high tailed it to Flagstaff where we are currently holed up in a very reasonably priced motel for a day or two while we rest as the storm blows through.Watching the weather in our room tonight we realised we dodged a bullet in the form of winter storm “Titan” which is wreaking havoc everywhere.
Enough of the cold, wind and rain now we can transport you back to the height of summer in Alaska and our adventures up there.
Blog 289 Denali National Park
The great thing about Alaska was we hardly had any big decision-making on routes there were very few roads connecting the country so it was easy to navigate. We headed out on the only route towards Wasilla and Anchorage, the George Parks Hwy. There were the usual ornate steel bridges and orange road works flags which we paid careful attention to.
We had a friend to stay with just outside Denali Nation Park which was great as there was no camping left in the park, it was all booked up. We had previously met George and his buddy Biva in the bar at Chicken (George was the one who rang the bell) we had phoned George ahead of time to make sure it was convenient and Biva came over specially to say hi too.
It had been a while and it was good to see them again, we enjoyed some beers on the deck while we caught up. George’s flatmate Monique had cooked a mushroom stroganoff for dinner which was most welcome and tasty too. The other bonus was that George let us stay in his RV which meant we did not have to put a tent up, woo hoo !
Denali town was very touristy and had a good look out spot over the river where they launched the white water rafting tours from.
Next day we headed into Denali National Park which only has one road through it and unusual for parks you are not able to drive your own vehicle right in. It had several different bus tours in old school buses of varying durations and prices. Arriving at about 10am we had already missed the longest tour but there were a few other options. We were not sure what to do for the best, the tours were not cheap and the prospect of being jammed in a hot school bus for most of the day didn’t appeal much to either of us. We knew we could ride to Savage River some 15 miles into the park so we decided to go there, we could always go back the next day if we still wanted to do a bus trip further in. We like to look around at our own speed and stop for pictures when we want so we aren’t generally that keen on organised tours.
There were a few good places to stop on route for views or interesting objects, this old rangers cabin had spikes on the outside of the door and windows to ensure the bears did not break down the door looking for food.
Savage River turned out to be a great spot and we enjoyed our lunch next to the beautiful river setting, the seagulls enjoyed lunch too, the people next to us weren’t so careful and their loss was the seagulls gain.
The cherry on top was that we saw some Dall Sheep from the bridge. They are wild mountain sheep that look a bit goat like in their appearance. They came down to the river to cross and jumped over 30 yards in front of us as we stood on the bridge. From here the path turned back but Kev wanted to take a look over the bluff at the view around the corner before turning back. When he reached the top and looked over there were two more Dall sheep right behind it and they both made each other jump out of their skin much to the amusement of people the other side who had been watching them from there.
By now it was mid afternoon so we started to head back out of the park stopping for a great ice cream at the visitors centre before heading back to Georges. We had a good day and decided to skip the bus tour next day, we had talked to a few people on the walk who had done it and most said it was mostly just a bumpy bus ride.
George lived in a log cabin on the outskirts of a small town and was on the deck when we got back. He motioned for us to be quiet and come straight up on the deck, when we got up there we realised why. There was a mama moose and her fairly new-born calf just across from the cabin, they had just shown up. George explained she had hidden there the year before to raise her twins and because she had felt safe she had come back. It was ironic that we had just spent the day in a national park looking for animals and then our closest encounter was when we went “home” for the night.
Next day we said thank you to George and decided to head out down the Parks Highway toward Anchorage. There was still much to do and see in Alaska.
Next up Wasilla and Talkeetna.