caribou, moose, and bears… oh my!
For the first four days of our Alaskan trip we have been in Denali National Park and Preserve. We stayed at the lovely Grande Denali Lodge, high on a hilltop over the town. The best day, by far, was when we were taken on the Tundra Wilderness Tour – a 53 mile, 8 hour tour, with a certified driver/naturalist. Our driver was Peter, and he was beyond amazing! Although we were riding on a “remodeled” school bus, it was one of the most enjoyable and informative tour-guided trips I’ve ever done.
And from what not only Peter said, but just about everyone else in Denali told us, it was one of the most perfect, beautiful, and fruitful sighting days seen in many a summer. Denali Mountain (also known as Mount McKinley – see the story and controversy over that name HERE) is most often shrouded in clouds. It was such a warm (warm for Alaska) and cloudless day, that the mountain was “Out” for what Peter told us was only the sixth day since May.
And although, we came with the expectations of seeing literal herds of caribou and moose, packs of wolves, and flocks of eagles – turns out, that no matter what we’ve all seen in movies, that is not how it “works” in Denali.
So when we not only saw the mountain in all its unclouded glory, but we saw just about every wild animal possible. First a small herd of Dall sheep on the mountain side. Then two male caribou, with full racks of antlers, on a ridge and a lone bear in the brush, quite far from the bus. Next up, a cow moose, also rather far from the bus, but viewable with the zoom lens on my camera. Plus the bus is equipped with a super-zoom video camera that Peter is an expert with and screens throughout the bus for all to see “up-close”.
Best of all, we saw four different sets of mama bears with their cubs – from new spring cubs to 3 year olds (grizzly cubs stay with their mother for the first 3 years of their lives before heading out on their own) and oh my, are they adorable!
But Peter and others who heard of our sightings were most impressed by the fact that we saw a fox and a lone wolf.
Yeah, it was a pretty stupendous day, from beginning…
… to end!