We were lucky enough to see the Denali Big 5 while we were in Denali National Park!
The Denali Big 5 are the 5 large mammals that capture most visitors imaginations when visiting Denali; moose, caribou, brown bear, wolf, and dall sheep.
Brown Bear/Grizzly Bear
A majority of the moose we saw were on a small stretch of road just a few miles into the park. In Denali National Park, you can only drive yourself on the first 15 miles. The rest of the 92 mile long road is unpaved and you have to take a shuttle tour bus to go down it (or hike on foot). This shuttle tour was worth it. First, the shuttle bus drivers are awesomely professional and are very knowledgeable about the park and the wildlife that lives there. Second, with a bus full of people (that as a rule have to keep quiet) you have that many more eyes looking for wildlife as you drive down the rugged road. The drivers will stop and position the bus for people to observe and take photos. And one thing I loved is that they required you to stay quiet out of respect for the animals! If you were unable to do this, the drivers will move on to not disturb the animal further. We had an awesome group of people on our tour, we would all help each other get better photos and had a lot of fun sharing stories. Our guide also had an awesome sense of humor and knew a lot of great facts about the wildlife.
Seeing the wolf was a rare treat! They are the most elusive of the Big 5. It was a young wolf running along the side of the road. We stopped the bus and just listened as he would stop and call out to his pack. Hearing the song of the wolf out there in the quiet of the national park was eerie and beautiful.
We took the shuttle up to the Eielson Visitor Center. On clear days you can get a beautiful view of the Denali Peak (formerly Mt McKinley), sadly it was cloudy and rainy for a majority of our trip. We were able to see a faint outline of the mountain occasionally and a small portion of the peak poked out at one point. The park was still beautiful though and we still had an amazing time. We think this was a picture of Denali poking out from the clouds, but we will not lie we are not 100% sure.
The visitor center was a lot of fun to check out. They had racks from different native species. I was very impressed with the size and weight of the caribou antlers!
The views in Denali were gorgeous all over the park.
And the fall colors at this time of year were incredible.
And the drive up to the park had some incredible mountains and the clouds and rain made for an eerie mood.
We loved the Alaska train that you can ride to the park.
We considered this our honeymoon since we never took one after our wedding. So we splurged and spent a night at the Grand Denali Lodge. What a hotel!
The view around the lodge was incredible too, just like everything else in the area.
The windy road up to the lodge was fun and full of silly signs.
What a trip. We can’t wait to go back!