Denali National Park and Reserve.

For the past week, we have been relaxing in Fairbanks, purposely not driving too far in order for us to catch our breath. Fairbanks is probably the least scenic city of our summer stay in Alaska, so we are itching to get out of the city and see some wilderness. Our next destination will be the famous Denali National Park.

Blog Alaska Denali

As we inched closer to Denali, we saw a sign for 49th State Brewing Company and pulled off the highway for a chance to stretch our legs and fill our bellies. Besides being known for their brews and food, the brewery is home to the bus from the movie Into the Wild.

Blog Alaska Denali

The kids were probably thinking why the heck are their parents dragging them a broken bus but hopefully someday they will understand.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denalix

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

They are always good sports about new places. We get asked all the time when we are planning to stop adventuring. Our answer is always ‘not sure’. If the kids are still into traveling and if the adults are too, then we’ll keep going.  It’s a group decision and this group still votes for adventure.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

Finally got our name called. Time for some food and brews.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

Since the sun doesn’t really set during the summer months in Alaska, we just keep driving in the daylight to our next destination.

Blog Alaska Denali

Hello there, moose!

Blog Alaska Denali

We don’t make reservations. It’s the choice we made pretty early as a full-timers because it’s actually less stressful for us to not have a schedule to maintain. Being flexible is the key to our survival on the road. We are okay with not getting to stay at a first choice campsite because of our lack of reservations. And this was the case in Denali National Park. So, we went with Plan B: a boondocking spot a few miles down the road outside the small town of Cantwell. Our buddies, Tim and Kerri were already here and confirmed speedy enough internet for the work week.

Blog Alaska Denali

The next morning, we headed to the Denali Visitor Center to pick up some junior ranger books and to see what the park had to offer.

Blog Alaska Denali

Sometimes we spend our day in a warm and dry visitor center so the kids can complete their roadschool and so that Dan can borrow a fast wifi connection. I love the looks people give Dan when they see him on his laptop in national parks. Working on vacation?!?!?! How dare you! Haha. If they only knew that the road is our home.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

After work hours, we loaded onto a bus to visit one of the things we were super excited about for months. SLED DOGS!! It was a surprise, that there is a range of places where you can buy a variety of commercial buses.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

All the dogs were super friendly. They are bred not only for their long legs and large feet but also for their awesome temperament.

Blog Alaska Denali

All the Alaskan Huskies that wanted to be pet could be pet.

Blog Alaska Denali

The huskies all look so different from each other. Some look like our old Siberian husky.

Blog Alaska Denali

And some looked even more wolf-like.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

The rangers demonstrated how the huskies pull their sled several times a day. We were lucky to catch one of the presentations. The excitement of the dogs getting to pull the sled was palpable in the air. There was nothing more that they wanted to do.

Blog Alaska Denali

The other huskies not in the demonstration were going nuts. They wanted to be part of it too.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

And then as if our day wasn’t awesome enough… puppies!!!!!

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

It was hard to leave this place.

Blog Alaska Denali

The kids were starting to complain that it was too cold and it was our queue to leave.

Blog Alaska Denali

Getting to spend time with these huskies pulled on my heart strings. It’s been about 7 years since we lost our husky but it still stings. Someday we will get another pup. Not now, but someday.

Blog Alaska Denali

While in Denali, we got a message from a new Instagram friend. We got a chance to spend time with them at the kennels and continued the party at a delicious pizza spot just outside the park.

Blog Alaska Denali

During our stop at the visitor center, we also got to finally meet up with the Bodeswell crew. They are an overlanding family of three who spent years driving down to the tip of South America in their ’71 bay window VW bus and are now on their way to complete the northern most road in North America.

BodesWell blog Alaska Denali

We convinced them to come join us at our boondocking spot down the road. The kids got along great with their 10 year old son Bode.

BodesWell blog Alaska Denali

And the adults got along just as great. Our first night together was a loooong night. The kind of night where the bottle of Jim Beam got busted out at midnight and we had to force ourselves to go to bed… because it never gets dark here! Haha.

BodesWell blog Denali Alaska

Our camp spot sat on a small river with a beaver dam.

Blog Alaska Denalix

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

It took a few days but eventually saw the beavers swimming late at night once the dogs and kids weren’t being loud outside.

Blog Alaska Denali

What? Kids are loud?!?!

Blog Alaska Denali

Yes, they are loud and make big messes too.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Denali Alaska

But they are super awesome too!

Blog Denali Alaska

Blog Denali Alaska

Being back in the wilderness, boondocking with old and new friends, is exactly what we needed.

Blog Denali Alaska

Blog Denali Alaska

Blog Denali Alaska

Here are the kids on an island in the middle of the river. Chairs, umbrellas, laughter and books. I am so proud of my baby hobos!

Blog Denali Alaska

Blog Denali Alaska<

On the 4th of July, we decided it was the day to commit to the 8 hour round trip bus tour of Denali National Park. Yes, you read that right. 8 hours! And that’s not even the longest choice they had. We chose the bus that drove 60ish miles down the park’s dirt road of the 90 miles available.

Blog Alaska Denali

We were a bit scared to how the kids would do but they did fantastic. They were entertained by the novelty of being on a bouncy green bus in addition to one lady that was an excellent wildlife spotter and yelled “STOP” at the top of lungs every time she saw something.

BodesWell blog Alaska Denali

STOP! Seat belts off, stand up and look outside!

Blog Denali Alaska

Bears! Grizzly bears!!

Blog Denali Alaska

We ended up seeing 5 grizzly bears just outside of the bus during our tour. It was amazing to watch them frolic and chew on some antlers in the grass. We thought we would see more bears during our summer in Alaska but these ended up being the only bears we saw up here during our 10 week stay.

Blog Denali Alaska

The bus was on a tight schedule. We got to step out at different viewpoints, use restrooms, but only had a few minutes to so.

Blog Denali Alaska

Blog Alaska Denali

And there she is. Mount Denali (formally known as Mount McKinley). The tallest mountain in North America (somewhere under that one cloud.)

Blog Alaska Denali

At the end of the 60 miles dirt road, we got a half-hour break to eat dinner and stretch our legs.

Blog Alaska Denali

And take more pictures.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Denali Alaska

Then it was time to turn around and head back to the entrance.

Blog Alaska Denali

Blog Denali Alaska

Blog Denali Alaska

Another grizzly bear.

Blog Denali Alaska

When we got back to camp, we decided to hitch up and make our way towards the next destination.

Blog Alaska Denali

On our way out of Cantwell, we stopped at the closed down Igloo Hotel.

Blog Alaska Denali

It’s seen better days but that’s okay. We have a thing for run down and abandoned places.

Blog Alaska Denali

Thanks for reading,
Marlene

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply