Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 21, Denali

I was the first to arrive at Denali.  I wanted to check on the "Discovery Hikes" and sign up for one.  They have two ranger led hikes a day in the Park and space is limited, so I wanted to be sure I could get signed up.  More on that later.

Checking in to the Riley Creek Campground proved to be a little confusing.  Since we made the reservation for the four of us under one name, I had to check all of us in.  The camp sites are not assigned, but you pick yours first come, first served.  So, it was a good thing I was there shortly after check in time because there was lots  of empty campsites to chose from.  They are very strict about you checking out by 11:00 and I was there about 1:00.  I spent a good 45 minutes circling the various campground loops trying to find spaces for us that weren't to hilly or too short and would accommodate the RV and a tow vehicle

Finally, off to the Wilderness Access Center (WAC)   to see about the Discovery hikes.  I'm told I have to go to the Visitor Center (VC)to find out about the hikes, another mile up the hill.  The ranger at the VC says the only one available is a 65 mile bus ride into the park and its labeled a strenuous hike.  So, strenuous that in order to sign up the ranger needs to see my boots to make sure I have hiking boots and not tennis shoes.  The strenuous part doesn't bother me, but the fact that it is probably a 3 hour bus ride out and 4-5 hour hike and another 3 hour bus ride back does bother me.  That means Sadie will have to be left ALL day in the motor home.  Not.  She is good, but not that good.  The ranger said there is doggie day care available and I checked into it.  Doggie day care was $35-45.  Ouch!!So I opted not to do the Discovery Hike this time.

For those of you not familiar with Denali  National Park, you cannot drive further than 15 miles into the park. The road ends at about 98 miles.  You have to buy a shuttle bus ticket and ride the bus or walk, or ride a bike.  No cars are allowed except by lottery in September.  You cannot take your dog on any of the trails, not even the access trails to the visitor center or campsites.  You have to walk them on the paved road.  This is not dog friendly territory. Furthermore, it is not an easy place to see.

The bus system itself is a little confusing also.  There are three different "shuttle" buses that go to different places in the park, these are the green buses.  There is no narrative or food( you pack food and water for the whole day) and it can be a 6-12 hour ride depending which bus you chose.  You can get off the bus anytime in the Park and get back on any of the buses...if there is room. Then there are the "tour" buses. They are tan, I think. These have a narrator and food is provided and they cost more money.  Again long rides.  There are also the "courtesy" buses that are free which shuttle you between the camp ground and visitor center, the wilderness access center,  and the sled dog kennels.  And last but not least there is the "camper" bus.  This is the bus that will take you to the meeting place of the Discovery Hikes and tent only campsites for a fee.  All of the buses, except the courtesy bus require reservations and they fill up fast.  Usually you have to wait a day or so to get on unless you make reservations way a head of time.

The bottom line is, if you are going to go to Denali,  you need to plan ahead and not take your pets and plan on spending a week if you really want to see it and get the feel of it.  If you like to hike, there are some trails, but most hiking is cross country as there are no designated trails beyond the 15 mile mark.  Also, you go to see the wild life, not the mountain.  Denali is shrouded in clouds 2 out of 3 days in the summer, and there is only one place you can see the mountain in the park without taking one of the shuttle or tour buses.

So, no discovery hike, and no bus ride for me. Nancy, Bill, and Liz were able to make reservations and did go on the green bus to Wonder Lake which was about a 10 hour ride.

I traveled to Denali nearly 15 years ago on a trip with my mother.  We took the bus out in the Park and I have good memories of that trip.  At that time there was only the shuttle bus and none of the other buses existed.  The Park has undergone huge, huge changes since then.  The VC campus, the WAC, the paved access trails are all new.

I ended my day with going to the ranger talk at the amphitheater.  The topic was on Caribou and their impact on the park and their summer and winter migration habits.

Didn't take one picture today.  The drive from Fairbanks was uneventful and there was road construction.

1 comment:

  1. When we went to Denali...we decided to camp at Wonder Lake so we rode the green camp bus back about 86 miles one way...we got to the lake about 3 hrs before "sundown"...We saw 38 bears on that trip so I think that is why no pets are allowed. We saw lots of other wildlife too..moose, caribou, fox, lots of birds-since we were on a time schedule we stayed only one night...and the top of Denali was fogged in, IF it hadnt been the view would be awesome,,,I always love that photo of Ansel Adams showing Wonder Lake and Denali in the background... I got one small peek thru the clouds and it was awesome. I hope the rest of your trip is safe and thrilling!