|Subject: Re: Denali|
Kathy and Joe,
My Alaska trip was one of the most awesome travel experiences I have had. And Denali was one of the main reasons. It is so massive that you can see it from Anchorage over 200 miles away. It creates its own weather patterns. A truly awe-inspiring view, especially on a day when the mountain is not obscured very much by clouds.
But one of the neatest aspects to visiting the National Park is the park shuttle bus. Cars are not allowed into the park beyond the 15 mile mark. So the only way to really experience Denali is via public transportation. We took the park shuttle bus all the way to the Eielson Visitor Center. Round trip was almost 8 hours but I did not mind much because there was so much to see. The mountain in all its majesty. Lots of reindeer/caribou. A grizzly bear mom and her cubs. The Polychrome River. We could get off the bus anytime we wanted to hike and take pictures (though not within 1/2 mile of a wildlife sighting) and then pick up the next shuttle in half an hour or so. And we had a park ranger on the bus to provide commentary. Note that I am talking about the shuttle bus ($22.50 per person), not the bus tours ($50-75 per person and you cannot leave the bus).
You can make shuttle bus reservations through the following url: http://www.nps.gov/dena/home/visitorinfo/bus/vts.html
In order to arrive in time for our 8:30 bus, we stayed in some tent cabins just outside the park entrance. Sorry, but I don't remember the name. I can't help much with hotels or restaurants because I was staying with a friend who was working for Arco at the time. But I certainly can recommend some great hiking trails and other areas to explore. By the way, I was there over a Labor Day weekend in early September and we did get snow one day. But the rest of the time the weather was fine with highs in the 50s and 60s.
Have a great trip wherever you decide to go!
Mark Los Angeles