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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

Into the wild - Denali Nationalpark

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

National parks in Alaska are a little different from the rest of the United States. There is real wilderness, hardly any hiking trails and usually no car traffic. We take the shuttle bus to Toklat River Station. Since there was a relatively harsh winter in 2018, the park is unfortunately not yet fully open, so that it will be the terminus at the end of May.

Shuttlebus im Denali Nationalpark atemberaubende Landschaft Wildnis
Shuttlebus in Denali National Park

We have our bikes with us and want to continue towards Denali. An absolutely impressive tour. Despite mountain bikes, the path is quite arduous, it's steadily uphill and the changing weather doesn't make it any easier. From wind, to sun, to snowstorms, everything is there within a few hours. But the view of the mighty Denali - the highest mountain in North America - with its 6,193 m makes up for all the effort.

Denali im Blick McKinley Bike Tour Wildnis
Denali in sight

In total we stay for 4 days in Denali National Park. We have perfect weather - clear blue skies and 100% visibility of Denali almost every day. As the locals tell us, this is by no means a matter of course and only occurs on average on a few days per month. We are blown away!

Denali Nationalpark perfect view
Perfect sight of Denali - not a matter of course :-)

The great thing about the shuttle bus is that the drivers are very attentive and like to stop when animals are in sight. So you can sometimes get out and take photos. And we're really lucky. We get reindeer, Dall sheep, mountain goats and even a lynx in front of the lens.

However, we experience the absolute highlight on a hike in the river bed of the Toklat. We are just getting ready for a short break when Micha spots an animal in the distance. "There's a moose around.", he's saying. I'm pretty sure it's more of a bear in stature. And indeed, a full-grown grizzly comes straight towards us. We forget about the break very quickly and recall the rules of conduct when encountering grizzlies: Don't run from the bear, stay in groups and make noise. The grizzly is not impressed by us and is getting closer and closer. And so the two of us stand close together in the middle of the river bed, stretching our arms up and singing out loud. In retrospect, a funny picture; In the situation, however, we didn't feel like laughing - pure adrenaline. Micha still has his camera in hand and takes countless pictures while the bear wanders by a few meters away watching us. And as quickly as he was there, he disappeared into the bush again. He probably wanted to move on quickly, with our gruesome singing :-)

grizzly denali toklat river wildlife
Grizzly in Toklat river

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