Fourth of July week was probably not the best time to visit Denali. To camp inside the park, you need very advanced reservations and a minimum of three days of camping is required. Only those camping in the park can drive to their campsite (the farthest being 29 miles into the park). For the rest of us, you can drive only 15 miles. Visitors must take a shuttle or tour bus to see any more of the park.

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We had reserved the 8 hour bus tour for the next day, so we stayed about 6 miles away. It was a cold and rainy night, and things weren’t that much better the next morning. We packed a bunch of snacks and grabbed Bode’s Junior Ranger booklet and hopped on our designated bus.

It was cold, and in order to keep the windows fog-free every other seat was to crack their window a bit. Every hour or so the shuttle would stop at a large group of pit toilets and clean the windows. We were encouraged to eat on the bus, so as not to leave food for the animals. We saw exactly no wildlife. Three hours later, we made the decision to hop on a shuttle going the other way. This would cut our trip short by 2 hours, which seemed like a good idea. Hopefully, we’d see some other animals or get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley/Denali. Another three hours later, we hadn’t.

We had our driver drop us at the dogsled team kennels, which were instantly the highlight of our trip to Denali. Denali’s sled dogs are a working team, used each winter to patrol the wilderness, where motorized vehicles (like snowmobiles) are prohibited. But in the summer, they kick back with a couple of exhibits a day and lots of loving from park visitors.

This year, one of the dogs had 8 puppies. Here’s your daily smile:


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