Saturday 2nd May, 2009
Day 50

Denali, Alaska
Denali, AK
Miles: 8534
N 63.73138°
W 148.89786°

Nina had read that during the off season it was possible to drive the first 30 miles of the 90 mile long Denali Park road. We thought that this would be a nice treat if possible as during the summer the only access to that road, and its views of Mt McKinley, is by bus. The previous time we were here the bus ride was 2.5 hours, each way, of sweaty people and a nice view of rain and cloud.

At the makeshift visitor information center in the Murie Science Center we confirmed Nina's information. The first 15 miles would be paved and the second 15 miles would be gravel.

Within 10 miles we had our first views of Mt McKinley, a huge snow covered mass in the distance with not a cloud anywhere to obstruct our view.

We drove slowly along the road looking for wild life, but only managed to see a few rabbits and some white ptarmigan.

There were quite a number of other vehicles on the road including a big 45 foot long motor home. At the point where the road was closed we found a parking lot well stocked with vehicles and visitors, a viewing platform overlooking the Talkeetna River, and restrooms.

We walked further up the road for a couple of hours in the hope of seeing some animals but alas no; though we enjoyed the warmth, and the exercise, after so may weeks of cold and living inside our shoe box.

After dinner once again we walked along foot trails to the bridge over the Nenana River to see what had happened to the ice pack during the day. The river had changed a lot during the 24 hours. The ice pack was gone, the river had reverted to a single channel leaving a large area of ice chunks up to 4 feet thick high and dry in the abandoned channel.