Denali National Park trip was an awesome adventure holiday for my visit in late May-early Jun 2017. My main goal of the trip was to see as many Alaskan wildlife animals as possible - not in a zoo but in the wild. Did I see any wildlife in the end? Lone Wolf, Grizzly Bears, Mountain Goats, Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep, Red and Arctic squirrels etc. IT WAS AWESOME!
Getting your bearings right is very important, it can totally be a waste of money if you are visiting the Denali National Park in a heavy rainy day on a shuttle bus tour or missing your bus schedule. As such, It is essential to visit the Denali visitor center on your first day to talk to the rangers and plan your days without regret. With rangers' advice, you will then be able to understand the weather condition, recent animal report (if anyone has seen bears, wolves etc), safety guide, operating hours etc.
We drove around Alaska by car but to get around to the inner Denali National Park, getting on the shuttle bus was the only option. There are still various easy trails starting from the Denali Visitor Center if you do not have much time to get around.
We were really lucky to have seen a lone wolf crossing a bridge from a distance. Our driver stopped the shuttle bus in order not to disturb the wolf while provided a good angle for photography/ viewing spot. I saw the amazing creature with my binocular but I couldn't get a close photo of the wolf since the wolf quickly went back to the bush heading to the forest.
Tips: Binocular is absolutely necessary if you would like to spot wildlife in Alaska. In many occasions, I spotted the most amazing action/ moment using the binocular instead of taking photos.
Our driver claimed that was the first wolf he saw in 2017, that really made us feel special to have the opportunity spotting one in the wild.
Throughout the whole trip, we always wanted to see any grizzly bears in the wild yet worried about the danger of facing them up close. I guess, seeing the Grizzly Bears in the shuttle bus was the safest way to experience it. We spotted three grizzly bears in the bush but we were not close enough to take a clear photo of them. Once again, my binocular was really useful to spot them with a clear view.
A caribou is a subspecies of a reindeer in North America. There were a number of caribous with beautiful antlers crossing the creeks and some lied down on the ground. Since it was the beginning of summer in Alaska, I couldn't help but wonder if it was the animal migration that we witnessed in Denali National Park.
Mountain Goats & Dall Sheep
Mountain goats inhabit mountainous habitats (high altitude) in North America, climbing steep angles in the mountain. The shuttle bus trip could be for hours, hence you can easily find those mountain goats hanging around the rocky mountain grazing grasses, mosses, ferns, herbs, sedges, lichens, twigs and leaves from the low-growing shrubs and conifers of their high-altitude habitat.
In Australia, I often shocked by the sudden crossing Kangaroo or even Koala (Yes, Koala can be really FAST in action) while driving in a safe speed limit.
In Alaska, driving long distance from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Seward and Homer could be very tiring. Although there were road sign warning Moose crossing, I actually didn't expect to have a HUGE Moose suddenly decided to cross the road. Of course I managed to stop the car safely and luckily with no car around the path at that moment but the HUGE Moose was freaking out and jumping back to the forest. If you are planning to drive in Alaska, watch out for the Moose in the forest that may cross highway anytime. Be aware, be cautious not to knock them down or run them over.
Red & Arctic Ground Squirrels
Alaska Squirrels were really adorable and I found them everywhere in Denali National Park. So far I'd seen many Red Squirrels and some Arctic Ground Squirrels during the trip.
Tips for the first time travelers:
Consider getting a good pair of binocular - buy it, borrow it or even renting it.
* Camera Lens
If you are into photography, 100-400mm lens was really worth it.
Went to Alaska in 2017 Jun, absolutely enjoyed the whole journey with the opportunity to immerse into the nature scenery along with the wildlife encounter.