There are multiple options for cruise packages these days, and what you choose depends on what the overall goal for your vacation is. Most packages have similar stops along the way, but the land portions are different. Our goal was to visit Denali National Park. In my dad’s words, “if we’re going all the way to Alaska, I want to see Denali.”
Wise words, from a wise man.
As mentioned in my last post, we spent two nights at the Princess Wilderness Lodge. Our first day/night was spent around the lodge, and our second day was spent driving through Denali National Park. For 8 hours. Should you visit in your own vehicle it’s not likely you’ll get passed a certain check point without a permit, but when you hop aboard the magic school bus it’s full steam ahead.
But seriously, we rode a legit school bus.
The space was cramped, the Australian woman behind me was sick, but we were able to get out and use the bathroom/explore every couple hours. There were no complaints because I was in Alaska. For food we were given a snack pack, although I didn’t eat anything inside because #autoimmuneprobs.
I fueled my stomach with amazing views and even better company.
The weather ranged from sunny and blue, to cloudy and rain, to below freezing and snow. It was even more unpredictable than my home state of Washington. I loved every minute. Except when we got out and it was below freezing. I bought a hat on the cruise ship (and a jacket) that was a Godsend, but I was still frozen.
My dad and I spent time getting to know each other on this trip, and I was able to teach him how to take a proper selfie. He then became the selfie king, which was good because I never take selfies.
Selfies aside, we saw a wide range of wildlife on this tour. Denali National Park has over 6 million acres of protected land, and I’ve never felt so small in my life. Amazing how easily we could have been swallowed by these mountains with even the slightest amount of careless disrespect.
Either the mountains, or a grizzly bear.
This bear was right next to the road, and I immediately took back all the unkind things I thought about the cramped bus. I was thankful for the large hunk of steel to separate me and the grizzly. He didn’t seem too phased by us anyway. With 6 million acres, seeing a grizzly isn’t all that common, but we lucked out.
We also saw tons of dall sheep, caribou, and a handful of moose.
All critters aside, the vast open landscape was what captured my soul. The locals say it’s hit or miss to actually see Mt. Denali due to the changing weather, and for us it was a miss. The clouds covered the spot where Denali should be visible, but there was plenty of beauty to make up for the hiding peak of Denali.
Of all the places we visited this was the only spot I would have liked to see in the summer months opposed to the fall. There are trails for hikers all over the park, and I’m not a big snow fan. Looks like I’ll have to go back and cover some land by foot.
Although, I’m not sure I want to run into a bear.
Alaska is truly a wonder, and is a place you have to see for yourself to appreciate all the beauty.
Q: Have you ever seen a bear in its natural habitat?