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Thread: Enjoy Denali sightseeing without entering the NP?

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    Default Enjoy Denali sightseeing without entering the NP?

    Hello,

    I would like to avoid the crowd in Denali NP.
    On the map I see a road south of Denali going to Petersville and a little further.
    Is it worth driving this road? Any interesting dayhiking possibilities from it?

    Same question for the road north of Denali going to the west, starting north of Healy?

    How long is the hike starting from Cantwell (length, high?)

    Any other idea is welcome!

    Thanks for your help!

    Marie from France, preparing my next summer trip in AK!!

  2. #2
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Exactly what are you looking to do? hike to the mountain? or just see it?

    both areas you mentioned are a long ways from anywhere should you have troubles... once you step off the road, you are very much on your own.

    not to discourage someone from partaking the Alaska experience and experience is a MUST for wilderness srviaval...


    not to mention that between the bears and Mosquitoes in the summer... Alaska's wilderness will come calling fast then you may be prepared for..


    however if viewing is what your up for .. there are severl nice locations to get some great photo opportunites as the sun comes out....
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Hi Vince,
    Not hike to the Denali!
    I'm speaking of dayhikes only with good photography opportunities of Mac Kinley (weather and mosquitoes clouds permitting! )
    If you have a look to my website you will see this will not be our first wilderness travel, even if it is the first with bears (unfortunately not the first with mosquitoes )
    Anyway we just plan to dayhike : the aim is to have beautiful vistas to the high mountain.
    Marie

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    then i think a day trip up the parks highway and one on Petersburg road will give your plenty of spots to pick from... Cantwell and Denali highway are beautiful spots to hike and sight see.. with enough breeze to keep some of the bugs off... with in driving distance for the Denali resort area also for the tourist stuff.. and if you are adventerious... we spend a lot of time north of the park well off the road.. i am always open to visitors on the mining claim north of healy...26 miles in....
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Thanks Vince!
    Marie

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    Quote Originally Posted by chatpacha View Post
    ...I'm speaking of dayhikes only with good photography opportunities of Mac Kinley (weather and mosquitoes clouds permitting! .....
    Marie
    Marie,

    If dayhiking is what you want to do, I would suggest you should also go into Denali NP. While there are crowds around the park entrance and on the buses, very, very, very few of those people get off the bus and hike. You will find some aswesome day hiking possibilites by riding the park bus in, and getting off and hiking. Once you get away from the road, you won't find many people. Take a look at Ike Waits' book "Denali National Park: Guide to Hiking, Photography, and Camping" for lots of good information.

    Another option for good photos of the mountain is to day hike up onto Kesugi Ridge. This is in a state park south of Denali National Park. To do the whole Kesugi Ridge is a several day long backpack. However, you can dayhike up onto the ridge on the Byers Lake, Ermine Hill, or Little Coal Creek trails. On a clear day, the views of the mountain are spectacular. The second edition of Ike's book also has some info on Kesugi Ridge.

    Assuming you have some time in Alaska, it would be feasible to visit both Kesugi and Denali NP on one trip. The Kesugi trailheads start from the highway between Anchorage and Denali NP.

    Have fun, but be carefull. As others have noted, hiking in Alaska can be ....well....interesting!

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    +1 to everything overthehill said; take the bus to Wonder Lake and start hiking west and just see how many crowds you run into. And when the clouds clear away, you'll nearly snap your neck looking up at the mountain. Bring bear spray and raingear.

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    Thanks all for your advices!
    I think I will go inside the park finally!
    If I choose to spend 3 nights there, which campground would be the best for hiking from? Wonder Lake? Another one?
    Marie

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by chatpacha View Post
    Thanks all for your advices!
    I think I will go inside the park finally!
    If I choose to spend 3 nights there, which campground would be the best for hiking from? Wonder Lake? Another one?
    Marie
    I would recommend staying at Teklanika (about mile 30 or so), if you can get a spot. Then each morning, catch the bus from Tek further into the park to whatever place you want to hike. Do your dayhike, then back to the road and catch a later bus back to Tek. Tek gives you the flexibility to easily get to lots of interesting areas, and seems to be the best way to maximise your hiking time and minimize your bus riding time. There is some hiking around Wonder Lake, but I like the possibilities around Tek better (but that's just my personal opinion). However, you said photography is one of your goals, and Wonder Lake is famous for it's views of the mountain (when it's clear). Lot's of choices.

    Campground spots are limited, but you can reserve a spot in advance. Go to the Denali Park webpage ( http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm )and follow the links to reserve a spot. If you can't get a spot at Teklanika or Wonder Lake, you could still stay at Savage River, Igloo, or even Riley Creek campgrounds and still get in plenty of good hiking. To backpack and camp outside the campgrounds requires a back country permit. They are easy to get and the nice thing is they only allow a limited number of people into each backcountry area at any time. This keeps the crowds down. Dayhiking does not require a permit. I highly recommend the book by Ike Waits for planning your trip.

    I think the secret to enjoying Denali is to use the bus system to get around to different areas, but spend most of your time getting off the bus and walking. If you get away from the road, I think you won't be disapointed.

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    Thanks Overthehill for that very complete reply!
    I will wait the 1th of december to book the camp.
    Is Teklanika is nice camp with a tent?
    I wouldn't like to sleep between large RVs!
    Marie

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    Default No RVs at Teklaneeka

    I'm pretty sure there are no RV spots at Teklaneeka - it's tent only. The RVs have to drive all the way to Wonder Lake, I think. Not sure; someone (will) correct me if I'm wrong. I've never stayed at a campsite in DNP, though. I'd suggest just camping in the back country. That's really the way to do it.

    FYI - and you may already know this - but the entire stretch of the park that you can reasonably access from the road is broken up into fairly large units in which they only allow about 8 people total to stay on any given night. I am pretty sure you can reserve a unit by phone prior to your trip, but I have always just reserved a spot the same day at the ranger desk, and it's worked out pretty well. Every time I have stayed out there, there have been other people reserved to stay in the same unit; however, I never once saw another tent or person once I got off the road. These units are big, and eight people get swallowed up pretty easily.

    You can basically camp anywhere inside your unit as long as you're at least 1/4 mile off the road (not hard to accomplish) and your tent is not visible from the road (can be more difficult to accomplish in certain units). It helps to look at the topo maps to see how the terrain features will shield you from the road, and it really helps to ask the park employees. They know all about the areas where it is tough to find a "hiding spot" from the road.

    I am glad you decided to go into DNP. When described, I admit it does not sound too appealing to an avid lover of the outdoors. You load a bus with a bunch of people and drive into a park - how outdoorsy is that?! But it really is a unique place, and the bus ride will be more exciting than you are imagining. Plus, as people have said, once you step off the bus and walk away from the road, you will feel a lot more detached from civilization than you would believe.

    Have fun!

    -Gr
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    Hello Gr!
    Thanks for your reply.
    RVs are allowed in Teklanika, not in Wonder lake.
    Sometimes, because of bears, tents may be forbidden in Tek.
    I have read that only 4 people were allowed in a section, and we are 5 (2 adults and 3 "old" children)

    Anyway I think we could spend 2 nights at Wonder Lake and 2 in Tek.

    Does anybody knows if we have a good chance to have fall's color being there around august 20?

    Marie

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    Default Colors in mid August

    Not completely sure, but I think you'd be just a touch early, maybe just by a week. It's right on the cusp, though. Never been in that late in the year, so I may not be the best one to answer.

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    Chatpacha,

    I think that you'd arrive right when the colors are starting to change, which will be spectacular. I was there this year in mid September and everything was brown by then. In the Park, what you will mainly see is the vibrant reds from the dwarf birch which only last about two, maybe three weeks. So, I think you'd be there just a bit early but late enough to see the colors start changing.

    Also, keep in mind it depends on the summer that we have. This year was a good hot summer so things changed maybe a week or so later than what is typical, but the summer of '08 was cold and therefor we had an earlier autumn.

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    Thanks guy for replies!
    Now I just hope to have a bit sun with fall's color beginning!
    Marie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    ... once you step off the road, you are very much on your own.
    I would say that to anyone who wants to avoid the commercial tourism crowd you get on the buses and all that stuff in the park. I can tolerate a bus that has to stop every minute to look at hoary marmots because as soon as I step off that road, I am, for all intents and purposes, in a pristine wilderness. Some of the hiking up near Muldrow glacier is fantastic. There is no sight as amazing as camping that close to Denali on a clear day. So I wouldn't just exclude denali because it's a NP!

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    Default Denali

    On the question about RVs... You can only drive a personal vehicle back to Mile 15 on the park road once the season starts. There is a parking area and a ranger check point there along with restrooms. So you will not have to worry about any vehicles back there other than the park buses that travel the road, and as far as I know they only travel up till about 6-7 pm. During the shoulder season (mid-may and mid-sept) you can drive your vehicle back to Teklaneeka rest stop at about Mile 30ish. It stops right before the bridge and is a very nice area for hiking.

    If you want views of Denali and are in the park you can't see it from the whole road. There are a few spots in the first few miles and then again at sometime after the Toklat river. Your best bet like everyone is saying is to take the bus back to Wonder Lake. You can also have a nice lunch there at the cabin/lodge.

    I have spent many a day in the park and have seen moose, grizzly, caribou, sheep, and many other critters in the first 15 miles. But I would definitely go for the bus ride back to wonder lake.

    Here is a link to a map so you can some of the locations we are talking about. Hope it helps you

    http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...02%20only).pdf

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    I don't recomend camping at Wonder Lake, it's very wet and full of mosquitoes. It's much worse then other day hiking areas of the park as far as the mosquitoes go.
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    Default Denali info

    Some of the info you've gotten here is quite good, other info a bit off the mark. As far as camping, I'd second the recommendation for Teklanika. If you have a camping permit for the campground there, you can drive your vehicle to the campground and park it at your campsite, then take the bus farther into the park- you can only drive your car into Teklanika on your way in, then back out when you leave. There's supposedly a 3-day minimum for your stay, but nobody's going to stop you if you want to leave early, although I can't imagine why you'd want to!
    As far as taking the bus, I'd only go as far in as Eielson Visitor Center. My experience is that you kind of hit a point of diminishing returns when going from Eielson to Wonder Lake. You spend a significantly higher amount of time on the bus for not much more high-quality viewing experience, time that's better spent hiking.
    For day hiking, you don't have to worry about those quota numbers for the different units- that only applies to backcountry campers, not day hikers.
    For good views of the mountain, I can recommend hiking up Tattler Creek to the top of Sable Mountain if you've got the time and the energy- it's a long hike and lots of climbing, but well worth it.
    Or, hike to the top of Stony Dome- it's a shorter hike than Sable Mountain, but great mountain views.
    Hope this helps- let me know if there's anything else you need to know, and good luck with the plans.

    -Tom-

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    Default our final choice

    Hello everybody.
    Thanks to your posts, we have finally decided to rent a motorhome (lower rates after 08/15!) and have booked 3 nights in Teklanika campground from 20 to 23 august.
    We will do dayhikes and as you say ANC boy maybe we will not take the bus all the way to Wonder Lake because it's a very long drive and we prefer to be outside rather than in a bus.
    Thanks again for your help!
    Marie

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