Photography by Jim Doty

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One of the Camp Denali Buses
Amid Fall Foliage

As we planned for our trip of a lifetime, I imagined several days in heart of Denali National Park taking pictures of mountains and wildlife.  Melissa dreamed of a cruise.  We compromised and decided to do both.

As we began the second half of our great adventure (see Cruise West for the first half), we boarded our bus after lunch for the 90 mile, 6 1/2 hour trip to Camp Denali (15 miles paved, the rest over dirt mountain roads with some high passes).  We stopped a number of times along the way to take pictures, and had a longer stop for an afternoon picnic dinner featuring baked salmon and other assorted goodies.  We arrived in the evening to a dessert reception, orientation, and in time to photograph the evening light on Mt. McKinley (Denali).

Some Photos Taken on the Bus Trip to Camp Denali

Located near the end of the park road and 1/2 mile up the side of a mountain, Camp Denali has a wonderful view of Denali (Mt. McKinley) to the south.  Guest cabins are spaced along the road with the Lodge (our collective living room), Potlatch (the dining room), hot showers, and other facilities at the top of the road. Each cabin has its own private outhouse with a heart in the door that faces Denali. Each cabin has a wood burning stove for heat, propane lanterns for light, a sink, and propane hot plate for fixing hot tea, coffee, or chocolate. There is a water source near each cabin.

Truly delicious meals were served at breakfast and dinner in the Potlatch building.  Fruit, veggies, sandwich fixings, trail mix, cookies, water and juice were also laid out at breakfast so you could pack your own sack lunch (the lunch bag and drink bottles were provided).

Our cabin is the farthest away in this photo.  It was a 1/4 mile walk uphill from our cabin to the Lodge and Potlatch.  That is 1/2 mile round trip to every meal and activity. It helps to be in shape!

At breakfast the days options were explained.  These ranged from "naturalist forays" (a series of hikes no longer than one mile in length with not much elevation change) to strenuous hikes that could be 7 miles long with several thousand feet in elevation change. Each foray or hike leader would explain where their group would be going and what you would be seeing.  About 30 minutes after breakfast we would take our sack lunches, pile into buses and vans and be off on the day's adventures. For those who came unprepared for the Denali weather, Camp Denali has a room full of rain slickers and boots in various sizes.

In addition to organized options, you could go off on your own via bicycle (provided by Camp Denali) or on foot.  Several trails surround Camp Denali and Wonder Lake is only two miles away. If you wanted a really lazy day, you could sit by the fire in the Lodge and read one of the many books or magazines about Alaska, watch one of the Alaska videos, chat, or just go snooze in your cabin.

In addition to the day's organized and personal options, Camp Denali also offers Special Emphasis Sessions (see Camp Denali 2). This is the reason we chose the particular week we went to Camp Denali.

A painter interprets some of the wonder of the landscape surrounding Camp Denali. He is on the porch of the Natural History Resource Center.  The same building also has hot showers, boots and slickers, and other supples.

Continued, Camp Denali 2

February 27, 2001

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