There’s only one road in and out of Denali National Park Alaska. We headed back out the way we had come in along the narrow and at times precipitous route till we reached the park entrance.
Since we had a long stop for lunch at Denali Backcountry Lodge (see here for Part 1), we didn’t linger long on the return journey, though we had a couple of short breaks including another chance to see the excellent Eielson Visitor Centre.
The Visitor Centre is situated on a high plateau called the Eielson Bluffs and was named after a pioneer Alaskan aviator named Carl Ben Eielson. It was originally set up in 1934 but was just a tent camp back in those days. Since then it has been remodelled a couple of times and now has evolved into a proper building, which tastefully blends into the surrounding countryside so as not to detract from the beautiful scenery. It is only open during the summer months and naturally there have been added restrictions with the Covid Pandemic.
The Centre houses some artwork inspired by nature, information about the environment and wildlife and there are also opportunities for hiking tours guided by local rangers. I don’t remember seeing a cafe there as such but I do recall getting some hot drinks, which helped to warm us up as it was very cold and damp outside. We were certainly not going to get views of the Denali mountain peak that day!
On the way back as the afternoon wore on we were treated to glimpses of some of the local residents – I realised then that I should probably have acquired a zoom lens for this trip. Some of our bus party seemed to have professional equipment with them but these were the best photos I could get!
First out of the mist came the caribou – the close up photo was taken by our friends so I can’t take credit for it!
Then after our earlier sighting of the mother grizzly bear and her cub in the morning, we had the thrill of seeing another pair later in the day – hopefully you can just about spot them? Obviously we were some distance away in the safety of the bus!
We had managed to see Grizzly bears, Dall sheep and caribou but as yet no moose on our Alaskan trip apart from one at the side of the railway track as we sped along from Seward to Anchorage (and I only got to see a brief glimpse).
The next day we left the Denali area and headed off to drive further north to our last stop in Alaska, Fairbanks. By the side of the road I spotted what looked like a large horse – we turned the car around, came back and there in a small clearing at the side of the road was a mother moose and her calf. The calf quickly took fright and scampered back into the coverage of the dense forest but “mum” stayed around for quite a while, seemingly unperturbed by our presence (at all times of course we stayed in the car!).
Apart from our short stay in Fairbanks, which I’ll post about next time, I’ve finally come to the end of our Alaska trip. Despite the inclement weather Denali was an amazing experience and one of the highlights of our trip.
Copyright © 2021 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved
5 thoughts on “Exploring Denali National Park – Part 2 Eielson Visitor Centre and Alaskan Wildlife”
I think Denali can only be described as absolutely gorgeous…even with bad weather what an amazing trip. You actually managed to get some really good photos of the wildlife. Thanks for sharing 🙂
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You’re very welcome Gilda – it would have been an amazing experience no matter what the weather was. It is often difficult to see the Denali mountain owing to the clouds so we weren’t expecting any great views. We felt lucky to be able to see as much wildlife as we did! 🙂
Great photos and place. It makes one dream of more travel…
Things are getting back to normal here but I have seen that you are again under lockdown in Perth and your borders are closed tight. We are hoping that borders will start reopening soon so we can start doing some travel. We recently did our first venture outside of Montreal recently and have done our first post since October. Hopefully we will do a few more outings soon…Take care. (Suzanne)
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Thanks Suzanne – Alaska and overseas travel seems rather a long way off at present! We are coming out of our short sharp lockdown tonight but restrictions will remain for a while. We are actually doing well here but the problem is that our borders will remain very restricted for some time as we don’t want to import cases here. We have a short trip booked within Western Australia for next month so fingers crossed that will go ahead without any problems. I will come by to read your new post very soon – I’m just in the process of setting up my new computer this afternoon and now I can’t find any of my photos. Am hoping I don’t have to reload them all! Hope you can gradually start doing some more outings at least locally! Take care 🙂