Before my husband and I began our camping trip to Denali National Park and Preserve, I did a lot of research. The National Park Service website and Lonely Planet Alaska were fantastic resources.
A lot of people opt for the challenging but adventurous camping in the backcountry when visiting this national park.
“Backcountry camping is where you see real nature,” my husband says. This is coming from someone who has backpacked and camped for more than 40 years, I am not surprised.
But in my 43 years on this earth, I have not been camping.
Denali National Park encompasses six million acres is home to Mt. McKinley. It also has a dazzling sub-arctic eco-system, complete with large mammals including grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, moose and a variety of birds. Backcountry camping when you have never even been camping before just seemed a little too overwhelming, so we decided that camping in the campground is the safer bet.
We drove 5 hours straight from Anchorage to Denali National Park. I wanted to stop in Talkeetna on the way, but my husband wanted to get there, get checked-in and the tent set up. He said that we could stop there on the way back to Anchorage.
This tent is going to be our home for the next week. Did I tell you that I’ve never been camping before? Oh boy, this is going to be an adventure.
Savage River Hike
After the campsite was set up, we drove to Savage River for a short hike.
It was only our first day in the wilderness and we saw lots caribou and moose, some artic ground squirrels, a few snowshoe hare, and rock ptarmigan.
We went to the Salmon Bake for dinner. This restaurant is hard to miss since it is located right in the middle of ‘Glitter Gulch’ outside of Denali National Park. Once inside, the atmosphere is pure roadhouse with license plates and other memorabilia all over the walls, but don’t let the surly-looking, tattooed staff scare you – they were all wonderful and friendly.
We went for a hike on the Taiga Loop. We saw a baby moose with it’s mother grazing by the pond, and quite a few birds – yelllow rumped warbler, collared pika, mew gull, slate colored junco & a robin.
During our hike Gary, always the naturalist, pointed out the various trees – speckled alder, red spruce and paper birch.
Even though it was an easy hike, I’m tired. Sleep came a little easier this time.
We hiked Horseshoe Lake trail. Saw a beaver dam and lodge and a few more birds…gray jay, mew gull, mallard, surf scooter and slate colored junco.
Still no bear sightings during our hikes. I’m kind of glad about this. I really don’t want to see a grizzly up close and personal. I’d like them to be close enough to take pictures but not close enough to attack.
We went to the Salmon Bake for dinner again after my husband attempted to kill us by fixing a camp dinner that he had brought from home. It turns out that the package was about 15 years old.
I had the salmon bake. It had a slightly sweet glaze that was just awesome. This restaurant is quickly becoming our favorite in Denali.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our camping trip in Denali.