Family Visit

My aunt and uncle from Tennessee came up last week for a visit. They were actually doing their own AK vacation and planned a few days in the Denali area.

Since rental car companies aren't fond of their vehicles being taken on dirt roads we all loaded up in our truck one day and went out on the Denali Highway. We drove not quite halfway across it and had lunch at a beautiful clear creek that feeds into the Susitna River.

After lunch, John did some fly fishing for arctic grayling while the rest of us relaxed and soaked up the sunshine. He caught eight by the way, the biggest one about 13 inches.

Great place for a nap!

That evening we had dinner at our cabin, then went out on the Stampede Road a ways to see if the mountain was out and glass for some critters. Saw one moose that quickly vamoosed, and while enjoying the silence of the night we heard wolves howl in the distance. It was a very special moment, one to always remember, and a first for the summer and in the area (our backyard!).

Kathleen decided to go for a four-wheeler ride, then the two of us rode down the trail a little bit to have some fun in the mud!

The next morning, bright and early, we caught a bus for a ride into the park. It was a beautiful day...the mountain was booming! This is the first view from about 10 miles into the park.

We saw caribou scattered about all day long. The first were spotted on the ridgeline.
The next couple were spotted coming down the hill. Sometimes they were running full speed. Normally it's the bugs that make them do that. I would go crazy too if bugs were trying to burrow into my skin and lay eggs in my nostrils.

One caribou decided the road was a good path to take for a while. We just had to be patient for about 20 minutes until it went back to the tundra.
Expansive views from Polychrome Pass. And fresh snow on the mountains!
We saw three fox throughout the day.
This one thought the road was a good travel option as well.
"Why is this bus following me?"
We saw a sow grizzly with two cubs at a distance. They seemed very content feeding in the tundra.

Getting close to that grand view of Denali...

View from Stoney Hill.

View from Eileson Visitor Center, about 33 miles from the mountain.
Portrait time

This is always fun! And a work-out, those caribou antlers are heavy.

This is a cross fox, cinnamon in color. Not seen as commonly. It was hard to tell but it has something in its mouth...maybe a ground squirrel.

Cow caribou just hanging out. They look so different with their dark summer coats and kind of ruff while still shedding their winter coat.
We saw a bunch of Dall sheep too, but none very close.
The last two bull caribou of the day, crossing the Savage River.

What a great day in the park! Still a very special treat for two people that have done it a few times. I don't think it will ever get old though, it's always a special experience! Thanks so much Uncle John and Aunt Kathleen for including us in your vacation and taking the time to see our cabin.