Denali Journals

Denali Ahhhh or Yaaaaa

A September 2001 trip to Denali by sasha1

Kates Bus Photo, Denali, Alaska More Photos
Quote: We arrived in Denali just in time for autumn colors. “Termination dust” (snow on mountain peaks) signaled an end to summer. Guardians of Denali are determined to maintain its natural beauty and restrict human impact. The borders were originally set to match migration patterns of wildlife. Binoculars are a must.

Denali Ahhhh or Yaaaaa

Overview

Kate's Bus Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
Denali National Park and Preserve access is severely restricted in order to maintain the integrity of its fragile ecology and wildlife. The home of spectacular Mount McKinley (originally Mount Denali "the high one") the highest mountain in North America. The mountain is hidden from view about 70% of the time so a glimpse is something to remember. Our stay in this park of over 9,000 square miles was too brief but we saw and learned so much. At the tail end of Denali's brief summer we were treated to fall foilage, wildlife sightings and renewed respect for the land thanks to a wonderful guide. Quick Tips: Take your binoculars and don't count on your camera unless you have exceptionally good ...Read More

McKinley Village Lodge

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Hotel | "McKinley Chalets"

McKinley Village Lodge Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
The McKinley Chalets...you should be warned ahead of time that Alaska''s accommodations are not to be compared to other places. Reasonably comfortable-think of a family owned get away in North Carolina with a few trimmings. Think of your upgraded cabin - genteel shabby. The walls are thin (we easily heard our neighbors) but, the beds are comfortable. Our room came with two full sized beds, a sitting area, a welcome coffee maker, an adequate bathroom. There were no frills like hair dryers. Don’t get your hopes up and you won’t be disappointed. Think that by the time you arrive you don’t even care anymore because you are focused on the next day. Our cabin faced a dried riverbed. We hike...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 15, 2001

McKinley Village Lodge
Denali
Denali, Alaska
1(800) 276-7234

Anchorage Hilton

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Hotel

Quote:
The day had been eventful. Debarking our ship, traveling by bus and stopping at the wildlife refuge and Heritage Center. We were glad to arrive at our hotel. The Hilton is in the in the center of town, easy walking distance to the convention center and plenty of hotels, shops and even a mall. The hotel has two wings and our accommodations were in the front tower. The room was quite large with windows on two sides, one looking toward the train depot at a distance where we''d board the McKinley Explorer the next morning and the other overlooking the street and unfortunately directly into our neighbors across the way, hint - close drapes before changing. I really appreciated windows that we could...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 16, 2001

Anchorage Hilton
500 West 3rd Street
Denali, Alaska

Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater

Restaurant | "Alaska Or Bust Cabin Dinner Theatre"

Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
This is a dinner theatre on the grounds of the property. We walked in and were asked if we had tickets- we didn’t. I just said we were tired and hungry- we were told to grab a seat. Seating was picnic table style and the performers are also the waiters. We passed around platters of vegetables, ribs, salmon, salad and trimmings. We sang along, passed plates, talked to our neighbors and ate like the dickens. If you prefer alcoholic beverages the bar is available. The show began and it was great fun. The "play" is loosely based on a fictional Alaskan gold rusher. Surprisingly good voices and piano playing, lots of interaction and the cast seemed to have as much fun as the audience. The finale is t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 15, 2001

Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater
McKinley Chalet Resort
Denali, Alaska
(800) 276-7234

McKinley Explorer Dining Car

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Restaurant

Quote:
We'd done a "bring aboard" breakfast but signed up for lunch in the dining car (actually the lower half of our car). A maximum of 20 people can be served at a time so we picked the last seating. The tables are readied with flowers, linen and china and we looked over the understandably bried menu selections with one eye on the passing landscape. The choices were Smoked Salmon Chowder, Caesar Salad, Vegetarian Pasta and sandwiches. Our whole party ended up ordering the same thing - club sandwiches and salad. We all were satisfied with the choice. The service was excellent and we enjoyed a relaxing meal and conversation with our tablemates. Just for informational purposes -...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 16, 2001

McKinley Explorer Dining Car
Seward to Anchorage
Denali, Alaska
(503) 292-5055

Tundra Wildlife Tour

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Attraction

Tundra Wildlife Tour Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
Kate was the "Alaskan Queen" of tour guides as far our bus was concerned. From somewhere around Minnesota originally (we’re guessing) Kate’s sentences were punctuated with frequent "Yaaaaas" as in "You see those white dots over there yaaaaa those are Dall sheep yaaaaa." Before the trip ended we’d all adopted her speech pattern and learned all the nuances in meaning yaaaaa can have. Kate communicated her own reverence for the natural preservation of Denali clearly. There would be no paper cups or paper that was left un-recycled from our box lunches - she collected them. We’d been warned to not expect much from the lunches but they were fine including the reindeer sausage. At one stop we pull...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 15, 2001

Tundra Wildlife Tour
Denali National Park
Denali, Alaska

Mount McKinley

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Attraction | "McKInley Explorer Train"

Mount McKinley Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
We boarded the McKinley Explorer in Anchorage. Comfortable glass domed rail cars were set up booth style on the upper deck. The lower deck was for dining. We left Anchorage at 5 a.m. - glad that we’d stashed muffins and orange juice the night before. We were ready for breakfast long before the dining call. Our onboard tour guide pointed out sights. The rail is being expanded during the "three months of construction time" each year but for now trains take turns being side tracked to pass each other. During the winter months residents in the tiny towns along the way put out signs if they want the train to stop. We passed the braided glacial rivers. Unlike normal waterways thes...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 15, 2001

Mount McKinley
Denali National Park & Preserve
Denali, Alaska

Anchorage Malls

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Attraction | "Anchorage Malls, Shops, street vendors"

Quote:
We knew that after Anchorage we'd only be allowed one bag each (carry-on size) and we wanted to maximize. So we headed to the Anchorage Mall about 3 blocks from the hotel. The Mall has several stories and lots of interesting shops as well as the usual including one that only sells items made in Alaska (tax free) and a truly wonderful silly toy shop...I bought silly bendable bride and groom figures for a wedding we'd be attending the week we got home and a battery operated giant cockroach (AKA Palmetto Bug) for a friend who despises Florida. An excellent candy store - ask for samples. Our goal was to buy backpacks that doubled as pull alongs and we got a great deal at the JC Pennys. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 16, 2001

Anchorage Malls
Anchorage, Alaska
Denali, Alaska

Alaska Native Heritage Center

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Attraction

Alaska Native Heritage Center Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
Next stop Anchorage. Compared to everywhere we’d been before in Alaska this was a city. We were all tired and hungry after being up since 4 a.m. and hoping for the hotel but we ended up at the Native American Heritage Center instead. We made a beeline for the café. Unfortunately so did everyone else except our guide who I suspect left with the bus for a McDonald’s drive-thru. After 45 minutes in line we ate and ran for the center. Another Alaskan disguised gift. The tribes each have an area around the lake and representatives welcomed visitors into model homes of their tribe. Pride, knowledge, enthusiasm, so refreshing and welcoming. Too briefly we "toured" representative homes of the region...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 15, 2001

Alaska Native Heritage Center
8800 Heritage Center Drive
Denali, Alaska

Alaska Wildlife Refuge Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
Debarking in Seward we boarded motor coaches to head to Anchorage. Passengers were split up between plane, train and bus at this point. Although we’d been anxious to reach Denali in retrospect I think we had the best luck. Unlike the former buses, can stop at points in between and we did. Our first stop was at a crude Wildlife Refuge in the middle of nowhere. Walking the muddy loop we learned that baby moose are often lost to their mothers and saw several of them being rehabilitated. Sagging wire fences with signs warning us of danger were the only insubstantial obstacle from bison, elk and moose. This is not a petting zoo the residents are wild. A black bear climbed up a tree whose branch...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 15, 2001

Alaska Wildlife Refuge
Between Seward and Anchorage-one road don't worry
Denali, Alaska