Summer – Denali National Park

I don’t get to Denali National Park as often as I should, especially since I live only 2 hours away. Friend or family visits are an awesome excuse to hit the park, since it is, or should be on everyone’s bucket list. It had also been 2 1/2 years since I’ve seen my mom, so I was pretty excited when she and her husband were coming up to visit. The only other time they had been to Fairbanks was for Christmas, so we really didn’t get out to do much in the 40 below weather.

For their visit, I reserved a couple of nights in the Riley Creek Campground and a day on the shuttle to the Eielson Visitor Center.

We arrived at out campsite in the evening. After getting checked in and setting up camp, we drove out to the Savage River. Right from the parking lot we could see a big bull caribou on the other side of the river. There’s a short loop trail there which is really flat, has a footbridge over the river, and great scenery. The caribou crossed the trail right in front of us and went down to feed on lichen by the river.

Bull caribou near the Savage River in Denali National Park

Bull caribou at the Savage River

We saw a few other critters along the trail.

Ptarmigan down near the Savage River

Ptarmigan hiding in the bushes near the Savage River

Arctic Ground Squirrel near the Savage River

Arctic ground squirrel

A large bull caribou grazing on lichen and willow over the Savage River.

Savage River scenery with the caribou in the sunlight

Scattered rain showers and evening light made for some cool scenes.

The primary bow was supernumerary

Faint double rainbow near the Savage River. Supernumerary arc on the primary bow.

A little light on a rainy evening. Denali National Park.

A little light on a rainy evening

The next day we had an early start to catch the shuttle. For those who don’t know, in the summer the general public can only drive to mile 15 on the Park Road (that’s the Savage River parking area). If you’re not a lottery winner, camping at the Teklanika campground, hiking, biking, or a resident of Kantishna, you need to take a shuttle or tour bus to go any further on the 92-mile road.

Sow with cubs near Sable Pass

A sow grizzly with two cubs near Sable Pass.

This sow grizzly had two cubs with her. They quickly ran up and over the ridge. Near Sable Pass.

They quickly ran up over the ridge and out of view

Denali was hiding in the clouds in the morning, but after crossing the Savage River it cleared enough to get some views of the summit before it clouded over again. By the time we arrived at the Eielson Visitor Center it was totally overcast and starting to spit rain.

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Along the park road

Denali and fireweed

The clouds managed to clear for a few hours giving a good view of the summits.

Clear enough to see the summits. Kind of rare in the summer.

River valley in Denali National Park

We spent some time walking on the trails around the visitor center before catching a shuttle back. We spotted a few more bears and caribou on the way back.

Bull caribou - Denali National Park

Another bull caribou.

It was a hot day, he looked like he was panting pretty heavy.

It was a hot day, he looked like he was panting pretty heavy.

It’s nice camping by the park entrance. We drove to Cantwell and ate at Panorama Pizza for dinner. I’m not a big fan of pizza around Fairbanks, but Panorama is awesome. After dinner we drove out to the Meadow View trails and took another walk by the Savage River.

Looking up the Savage River Valley with Fang Mountain

Looking up the Savage River at Fang Mountain.

The next day we took the dog kennel tour. It was my first time visiting, the dogs were gorgeous and there were some pretty cute pups! I’m sad that Kate missed out!

Annie was very sweet. Most of the dogs were.


From the Meadow View Trail near the entrance of Denali National Park.

From the Meadow View trail

Overall, it was a great trip with some incredible views, as always in the park. We finished it up with a quick walk on the Meadow View Trail near the park entrance.

More photos from this trip:
Day 1 – Savage River – Rain and Light
Day 2 – Shuttle to Eielson
Day 3 – Kennel and Meadow View

Blog Comments

My parents were able to visit Denali National Park last year and it so sweet seeing them talking about their experiences and how they had fun. I’m admitting that I feel envious about it but glad at the same time, seeing them happy together. 🙂

What beautiful photos. I did a bike ride through the park, but unfortunately had terrible weather. You were quite lucky to have such a nice day!

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