Being a Tourist in Denali

As most of our readers know, we rarely follow the beaten path when it comes to our vacations. In fact, so far in Denali we have walked on an established trail a total of 1 mile (not counting the trails between the campsites and Visitor’s Center). Well, we thought we’d be real tourists today and do something most tourists do. First, Matt slept until almost 8 AM! I still got up at 6:30, but we’ll excuse that. Then we decided to take a morning hike on a trail. In fact, it was one of the approximately 8 hikes in the park that have an established trail. It was the only one with a “strenuous” rating. So up to Mount Healy we went. It was quite the uphill hike – 2.5 miles. Unfortunately, when we got to the top, the views were poor due to haze in the air. That was rather disappointing. But at least we got our morning exercise in.

On top of Mt. Healy overlooking the town right outside of Dinali.

On top of Mt. Healy overlooking the town right outside of Denali.

After our vigourous 5 mile hike, we were hungry. And rather sick of freeze-dried meals, Ramen, and energy bars. So we ventured to our favorite hangout place in the park, the Mercantile. The Mercantile has frozen chimichangas and a microwave, amongst many other frozen meal and food choices, – so chicken chimichangas became the lunch choice.

After lunch we went to the dog kennels. Denali is the only national park that still uses sled dogs actively to maintain the park. And everyday they give park visitors the chance to come meet the dogs and learn about what they do. It was a touristy demonstration (they had a sled on wheels that a few of the dogs pulled to demonstrate), but also very informative. They had a map showing the routes the dogs run in the winter to patrol the boundaries and carry supplies. No snow machines are allowed in the Denali Wilderness. Currently they maintain about 30 dogs, all of which are of the Alaskan Husky breed. But you would never know it looking at them, as they all look completely different. They also had gear from the past and present to view, and rangers to answer questions. We were glad we went.

Visiting with the dogs.  They stay outside year-round.

Visiting with the dogs. They stay outside year-round.

You can see how different this dog looks compared to the first.

You can see how different this dog looks compared to the first.

Part of the dog sled team in action! (they have wheels on the sled)

Part of the dog sled team in action! (they have wheels on the sled)

The rest of the evening we spent relaxing, as tomorrow we head to Anchorage to climb three peaks, once again off the beaten path. However, on our way down we plan to stop at the most amazing burger restaurant that Matt and I have ever found. It is literally this little cafe attached to a gas station at the corner of Routes 3 and 8 (or George Parks Highway and Denali Highway). We ate there on the way up.. and can’t wait to eat there again tomorrow. Of course our favorite burger restaurant would be in Alaska. All the more reason to come back!

Published in: on June 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Excellent Allison…another outstanding post! This day sounds EXACTLY like the type of vacation day I would plan for Michelle, our children and I if we were in Denali! It would pain me greatly to be charged and injured by some wild animal off the beaten path. It would be especially painful (and painfully embarrassing) if the offending beast was a SHEEP! : )

    P.S. My plans would also include the burger place!

    • Hahahaha


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