On May 20th, the first shuttle buses to the Toklat River in Denali National Park began this season. I happened to have the day off, so I got to go on one. I chose a late morning bus (11 am) because I wanted to check out the visitor's center and bookstore before I went. The buses earlier in the day were full. Mine, well there were 8 passengers.
Do you know that only 30% of the people that visit Denali National Park ever see Mount McKinley? Much of the time clouds obscure the view. The visitors I traveled with are now part of the other 30 percent. But we only saw it once...and from a little more than 70 miles away.
We saw many caribou and snowshoe rabbits. We saw a golden eagle and arctic ground squirrels standing upright along the edge of the road. We saw Dall Sheep grazing on the mountains and resting in the sunlight.
Then came Polychrome Pass. It must of have been interesting building this narrow road here. It has excellent views of the upper East Fork River and the tundra valley far below. Polychrome means many colors and here the volcanic rocks are bands of yellow and orange and lavender, and yes, black and white too. Most of the plant life at this date is still brown and gray, but I can't wait to see it in more green. Here, I shot this quick video with my camera. I was trying to get more of a depth than with just the snapshot. But this is one of those places where the camera just cannot compare to the real thing.
We then went up to the ranger station located at the the Toklat River. The 53-mile point into the park. Some later date I shall return to this area and explore a bit more. But this time I just boarded for the trip back. We were We were almost back to the Savage River when we spotted a grizzly bear in the distance. We stopped and watched then just about a mile later saw two more. Most likely a two-year-old and it's mother.
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