Denali National Park Shuttle Bus

Trip Start May 06, 2010
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81
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Trip End Oct 14, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I went to the Wilderness Access Center in Denali National Park and Preserve to catch a shuttle bus to the Eielson Visitor Center.  The trip is supposed to take eight hours round-trip but you can get off at any time and board any of the later shuttle buses. 

The bus stopped often.  Whenever anyone spotted a large animal we'd stop for everyone to take pictures.  Unfortunately, the animals were almost always way off in the distance so they were going to be tiny spots in the photos.

We also stopped for views of the scenery.  There are a number of spots that offer good views of Denali on a clear day and the weather sometimes cooperated.  Another scenic spot is the aptly named Polychrome Overlook.  We stopped there long enough for me to get some good pictures.

We reached the Eielson Visitor Center after around four hours.  Unfortunately, the weather was no longer cooperating and Denali was hidden by clouds.  I checked out the exhibits in the visitor center and then hiked one of the nearby trails. 

I caught a return bus about two and a half hours after I had arrived.  I had originally intended to pick some good spots on the way out and then get off at those spots on the return trip but the only spot that really appealed to me was Polychrome Overlook and I took pictures there on the way out.  I just stayed on the bus all the way back to the Wilderness Access Center arriving around 7:00.  Then I drove back to my hotel.

When I planned this trip I didn't realize that there are stops along the park road that pretty much require you to camp in the park to visit.  You can take a shuttle bus all the way to the end but it's a 13-hour drive round-trip and you have little flexibility to get off since there are so few buses that go that far.  I should have planned on camping for at least a couple nights at Wonder Lake Campground, which is very close to the end and offers excellent views of Denali.  Maybe next time.

I'm driving to Fairbanks tomorrow.
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