Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Clear Day in Denali

We drove into Denali National Park today, as far as private vehicles are allowed, to the 15 mile point at Savage River Loop Trailhead. We stopped at several points along the way to read information and view Mt. McKinley. When taking pictures without using the zoom, the focus was on trees and terrain closer to me. We’re about 75 miles north of the mountain at this point. (We were about 50 miles south of it at the Talkeetna Spur Junction.)


I used the landscape setting on my camera and zoomed in to focus better on “The High One” and these turned out better.


From this point, you can see both the north and south summits. The south summit is 20,320 ft. and the north summit (on the right) is 19,470 ft.


Further down the road, I got a different perspective. Notice the position of the smaller mountains in front. Cathedral Mountain is in the center, at 4550 ft. elevation, less than 1/4 the elevation of Mt. McKinley, but it looks like it’s almost half as tall because of the proximity.


This is a zoom-in on the south summit. I didn’t enhance this pic, but it’s at the maximum of my camera’s zoom ability, and I forgot my monopod, so I had to hold my breath to take it without shaking. (This camera is living up to my expectations!)


One of the information boards stated “From this perspective Mount McKinley’s true scale is obscured by foothills and intervening peaks. Clouds hide the summit two out of three days in summer.” We knew that only about 30% of visitors ever see the mountain. Then we learned that only 10% see the mountain without clouds. So now we’re part of that 10%! Even though we didn’t see the lower portion, there are probably not much better views than this unless you fly over it!

While we were looking around Don started talking with a couple in the trailhead parking lot – they were driving the Class C motorhome in the pic below. They are from El Paso where I grew up. In fact, they live less than a mile from where my parents moved just as I was graduating from high school. In fact, they bought and restored a small, older house on Emory Rd. where my older sister lived in the mid-80’s – it might even be the same house, as it sounded pretty familiar – who knows? They spend part of the year there and part of the year traveling. They actually chose to move to El Paso, whereas a lot of us who grew up there couldn’t wait to get away from it! But they previously lived in Houston, so I can understand!


Since Mt. McKinley dominates the National Park and is the focus for so many things, sometimes we forget to notice the beauty of the surrounding area. Here are some other shots to enjoy.


Oh, there’s that big thing again! It’s hard to ignore, especially on a clear day. And we think this might be the last one we’ll have for awhile, as rain and clouds are in the forecast.


Back at the tourist area, Don and I wanted to have a light lunch. We decided to check out a couple of Asian cuisine restaurants. (I use that term loosely!) Denali Thai Food is the new kid in town.


It’s right next to the Chinese place.


The ambience wasn’t wonderful, due to a strong wind, but the price was fairly reasonable considering where we are. Don chose Chinese, I chose Thai. He got his in 5 minutes for $10, mine took 14 (they said it would be 10) and cost $12. (Minutes count when you’re standing in the wind waiting.) Both tasted good, and there was no wait for a table. We sat at a picnic table on the left, and marveled at the RVs parked back-to-back (and close!) across the lot, with one picnic table for every 2 RVs. The good thing is they can walk to town.


We did a little shopping, first at the Great Alaskan Bowl Company. This branch store has a lot of the same things as the factory store in Fairbanks, but the clerk was a bit annoying, and we know there will be more choices when we go to the factory next week. Still, it was fun to see the raw wood made into bowls.


The ‘mistakes’ become bird feeders (top shelf) or spoons or other items.


Beautiful bowls, engraved and decorated.


We went down the street and found the Alaska flag sweatshirts I’ve been looking for at a discount store for only $19.99 (regularly $29.99). Can you believe we’re wearing sweatshirts in July?


Happy hour was followed by a grill-your-own/potluck dinner outside the Olson’s motorhome, somewhat sheltered by the wind. All the shared dishes were yummy! And the steaks Don grilled for us were superb!



  1. You are so lucky to get clear shots of Mt. McKinley!! Beautiful!
    Loved all the scenery photos! Thank you for sharing with us. And the wooden bowls are wonderful--good thing I am not there! I would have bought too many! (Up firing the kiln at 3:32 am for pottery bowls, smile)
    Wish I was wearing sweatshirts in July, smile! Enjoy and keep writing! Hugs, C

  2. Amazing photos of the mountain. Maybe more than I will see when we get there in a couple of weeks! who knows?!? Funny, it would be Thai for me and Chinese for Mo. She ate nothing but Pad Thai and rice the entire three weeks we were in Thailand!

  3. Great pictures especially the shots of Mt. Mckinley. They are truly awesome!

  4. Great photos! Enjoy your stay in the park.

  5. Your shots of Mt McKinley are awesome! Great job. We're a little 'seasonally confused', too, right now. It's cool most every day up here in Alaska and it's summer. Then it's hot most every day when we're in Arizona in the winter! LOL

  6. Isn't it wonderful that we RVers can stick around as long as we want until we can see the mountain? Great shots!

  7. Wow, beautiful photo's!
    Sweatshirts sound wonderful to me
    as I am feeling blessed to have
    mid 80's this week here in
    central California..........last
    week it was triple digits.
    So enjoy!


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