Day 10: Monday, June 19, 2000 We left Fairbanks at 6:45 a.m. and drove a gorgeous highway south to McKinley View RV Park, a few miles outside Denali. We got the camper set up and immediately headed off into the park to the Visitor's Center. It was quite crowded with lots of young people wearing backpacks. Our goal was to get tickets for a bus tour into the park We took the 8 hour trip for the next morning. The eleven hour trip would have included an overnight stay at a lodge at the end of a 90 mile gravel road. There was also a much shorter ride available that afternoon. That accomplished we watched a slide show introduction to the park and then boarded a bus to see a dog show demonstration.
These are actually working sled dogs. They provide mobility for the rangers on patrol of this vast park in the winter season. There was a short demonstration on a gravel track as a few of the dogs were chosen to make this run. Do the dogs love their work? Your better believe it, when you hear them bark and yowl to be chosen. "Take me, pick me" they seem to sayThen after we wandered about a bit looking at the dogs kennels, harnesses and sleds, we took a brief ride up to the entry point for the wilderness road. To prevent traffic jams, risks to people and wildlife and preserve the pristine nature of this wilderness, it's buses only on the road. This definitely isn't Yellowstone. It works well enough, although years of experience taking my basketball players to games on school buses, left me less than a little thrilled from the comfort side of it.
No cars are allowed past the bridge. As we headed back out of the park to our campground, we saw several moose along the roadside and a "drunken forest." Due to heaving in the perma frost. all the conifers were tipped crazily in all directions. In the same forest was a herd of caribou another first for all of us. They were all standing pretty straight, however.
Next: Into the Denali wilderness by bus