Category: Denali National Park

Just ONE More Denali Day – 2013

After enjoying Lou’s Fall photos, and comparing them to the ones we made in the snowy fall of 2015, I decided to check out the 2013 Denali pics from our early summer trip. We were there just after the Park Road opened. I’ve reprocessed these photos; the new versions aren’t much different than the ones in the original trip report, but Lightroom has made some enhancements in the last 6 years.

I’ve included some wildlife we saw on our bus ride to the Kantishna Roadhouse (the other lodge at the end of the 90 mile road). Our bus driver, Kirsty was phenomenal at spotting wildlife. We didn’t see any bears or moose, but had good views of caribou, dall sheep, and even saw a Cross Fox – red and black. And our favorite ptarmigan.

10 June 2013

The photo above is the Eielson Visitor Center. You can see the clouds in this and the other photos. We sure didn’t see Denali – the mountain, on this ride. Leaving Eielson, and continuing into Kantishna, you can really see the differences compared to the fall trips. There is a lot more green grass and shrubs.

Quite a difference, but then, the ride can be different from day to day in the same week. I fell in love with the immense landscapes of Denali National Park on this trip – which was my first. No matter which season, this is a amazing place.

Just my view, but I would say Lou’s 2008 trip was the prettiest with fall colors at their peak. Our snowy trip in 2015 had the most atmosphere, but the fall colors were not as prominent. The 2013 trip looks a little lackluster compared to the other two, but I still find it beautiful. I would go back in June, July, August, or September!

Does anyone else have an opinion?

Denali – Lou’s Last Day

4 September 20o8, Thursday

It is the last full day at Denali for Lou and his tour group. They will go out to shoot today, then catch the early bus tomorrow morning.

Lou obviously lives in an upside down world!

This is the Ranger Station by the path to Wonder Lake. Those are solar panels on the small outbuilding roofs.

The main thing I remember Lou talking about when he came home were the incredible blueberry plants. Not the moose, or the bears, or the ptarmigans … the blueberries. He remains obsessed with blueberries to this day.

I call the photo above “The Edge of Fall.” The berries won’t last much longer.

Rain approaches. It is late afternoon, and these are the last photos from Lou’s trip.

I thought there should be photos from at least one or two more days, but Lou checked his archives and this is it. He is pretty sure his 2008 trip was one day shorter than our 2015 trip. We will assume he and team got on the bus the next morning before 7am for the ride down to catch The Magic Bus to Anchorage. Lou says he believes the weather was bad and he didn’t take any photos from the bus. He is not quite as happy shooting out of moving vehicles as I am, so this makes sense.

Thanks Lou, for sharing these wonderful memories of Denali. I can’t believe how different it has looked on each of our three trips to the park – 2008, 2013, and 2015.

And thanks to friends and family who have been following as we post some of our older adventures. This “Memory Lane” project will continue throughout the winter, but I think we’ve caught up on Alaska. I may post a few Denali pics from our 2013 trip, just to compare early June with September.

Denali Adventures Continue

3 September 2008, Wednesday

Looks a lot like early morning sunrise – Lou took this one before 7am, and I bet they are on their way to Wonder Lake.

Looks like Lou had fun taking some photos of his fellow photographers. Love how colorful the ground cover is, makes for great shots. And it also looks like a decent day for wildlife. This is more moose than I have seen in a lifetime.

Obviously, they took their morning photos at Wonder Lake, then hopped on the bus to drive down towards Eielson Visitor Center. Must have run into some clouds, but the sun came out later in the afternoon as they returned to the lodge.

Aren’t these guys awesome? How many do you see? Better check again. I believe these are Willow Ptarmigans – How cute are those winter boots? The Ptarmigan will molt all of its colored plumage, and go all white for camouflage in the winter snow.

Lou saw several grizzly bears during his trip. They were always a far distance away, which is a good thing! Bears at Denali are not as habituated to people as are the bears in Lake Clark National Park. Here is the bear and some more random wildlife sightings.

Did you notice the reflection in the preceding photo? Lou likes to trick you with reflections. Keep your eyes open for more tricky reflections in tomorrow’s photos. For now, let’s finish up the photos from this awesome day.

Another freaking awesome day. I am loving the colors, and I’d be pretty excited by the wildlife as well. Lou was probably, “ho hum, another moose.” I remember when we were at Yellowstone – after our first morning stalking elk in the bitter cold, Lou’s comment was, “Are we going to photograph every damn elk in Yellowstone?” 😂😏😊

Well done, Lou! It has been a joy to go through these photos. I think there is one more day’s worth to curate, and then we will be sad to leave Denali.

Click HERE for the final post in Lou’s Epic Denali Adventure.

It’s Denali Day! Going into the Park

2 September 2008, Tuesday

It’s time to go for a ride and see some sights before meeting up with the bus at 1:00pm. It was another beautiful day, with just a few clouds in the sky.

We, I mean They, have crossed the border into the Park. Who was in charge of taking a photo of the official Denali Park and Preserve Sign?

Yay! Lou took a road pic. So funny to see how we approach photographing the bus ride. I take lots of road photos, lots with busses. That doesn’t interest Lou much. It’s all good, there is no right or wrong.

Be on the look out – there is wildlife in three of the next four photos. Hint: you can click on the photo in the gallery to see a larger version.

Now onto some of my favorites:

The last photo above was taken after 7:00pm, so presumably they’ve stopped for their picnic supper already. Almost to the North Face Lodge. It’s 7:30pm and the Alaska sun is still reflecting strongly off the tundra – it almost looks like fire.

What a wonderful set of images to capture the awesomeness of fall in Denali. I’m ready to book a trip now.

Click HERE to see more Denali action.

Lou Does Denali!

Fooled you all. You thought we were through with Alaska. But, no – Lou was motivated to give me his photos, and I am motivated to post them. The upcoming photos are from Lou’s trip to Denali in the Fall of 2008. He was attending the Van Os Photo Safari session lead by Len Rue, Jr – the same photo tour we went on in 2015. I was supposed to go too, but work interfered, so we decided it was best for Lou to go alone. We needed to use up credits from Van Os for our cancelled trip to Antarctica (… cancelled due to work, grrrr).

Note – all photos in a gallery (a group of more than one photo) can be expanded by clicking on the photo. A slideshow will allow you to cycle through the photos.)

1 September 2008, Monday

These next few posts are significant, because they show Denali in the Fall – just like our previous report, but there was no snow on the tundra, and the fall colors were spectacular. Also, these photos were all taken by Lou. Even though I do include his photos in our reports, he generally gets short changed, because I get worn out processing my own photos. He often has unique perspectives, and it is fun to see how differently we might see the same area.

Starting off from Anchorage, the group was lucky enough to have a full frontal view of Denali:

Understand, I am having to put together this report by estimating where the group is according to the time stamps on Lou’s photos. Typical guy, there are very few people photos or ones showing where they might be at any given time. But it should work out fine, as I believe they followed pretty much the same route and plan as we did in 2015.

Continuing on, they saw some spectacular landscapes, but more importantly, they saw trains! I’m going to guess this was in Talkeetna. This is a good example of the differences between Lou and I – one train photo would be enough for me. He needed to capture the different types of cars on the train. Kind of cool, actually.

Then it was time to capture some close ups of flowers (click pic to expand):

Looks like it was then back on the bus, and they stopped down the road, probably for lunch, and then also at a scenic turnout.

More flowers, taken on their stops along the way:

Even though Lou loves flowers, he did not forget to capture the beautiful scenery along the way:

The photos above were taken after 5pm, so I’m guessing the group continued on to their hotel for the night, staying just outside of Denali National Park. They no doubt had dinner, and left the next morning to meander to the train station, where they would meet the North Face Lodge Bus at 1pm.

A few days ago, I might have said nothing beats Denali in the fall with snow. Now, I’m thinking Lou saw some spectacular scenery, and more fall colors on his snow-free tour. That is why we have to keep going back – it is always different!

Click HERE to follow the group into Denali National Park & Preserve tomorrow.

The Bus Ride Out – Goodbye Denali

4 September 2015, Friday


Early morning departure time had us on the bus before 7am. The weather had decided to get dreary, with rain and fog, off and on. And even a little snow. How lucky were we to have had such wonderful weather the past few days? Especially since this is the end of the season, and the park will be closing soon.

There wasn’t a lot to see on the ride down, that we hadn’t already seen during the preceding days. We did get some nice wildlife sightings, and some more fall color at the end of the trip.

We came upon this bear walking across the road. Then, he eased on up to the snow measuring pole and started to scratch his back. You may have to look closely to see the pole.

He or she then proceeded to just take a leisurely walk along the road, holding up our bus and one behind us.

Once Mr. Bear let us by, we continued down the mountain in the fog and drizzle, not seeing a lot – but there was still some fall color and the rocks were pretty. We did see one mountain goat.

We transferred to The Magic Bus for a five hour trip back to Anchorage. Everyone was quiet, taking the opportunity to nap and think about all we had seen.

It’s almost a wrap to our second Awesome Alaska Adventure. I have no memory of our flights home, which is probably a good thing. We obviously made it, and went on to enjoy life in Maine these past four years. (Now 6 years, since this update is happening in 2021.)

Allow me to get sentimental for just a moment – Lou planned and arranged this two week trip to Alaska as I was completing those fun-filled Chemo Treatments in the summer of 2014. It was great to have something to look forward to, and the trip lived up to the anticipation and expectations. We might have had a few small complaints, but how can we be anything but thankful? To wake up healthy, to get to experience the wonders of Alaska – the beautiful bears, the hospitality at the Alaska Homestead Lodge, the immense beauty of Denali National Park, and the majesty of the mountain. Thank you, Lou.

This concludes our report on the 2015 Photo Tour of Denali in the Fall. If you’d like to see more of Denali, Lou did this same tour in the fall of 2008. You can find it in the More Travel Stories links, or click HERE to go to the beginning of the “No Snow in the Fall” Denali report.