Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alaska Holiday - Day 9, on the way to Denali

Day nine dawned for us in Anchorage, with a planned five-ish hour drive to Denali National Park. We set off promptly before breakfast with plans to stop at various places along the way. In planning this trip and a lot of the content of the rest of holiday we used the book, 'A birder's guide to Alaska'. Unfortunately due to the ongoing development and some very large and location specific roadworks, a number of potential stops proved to no longer be accessible/viable. We did however enjoy our stop at Big Lake (very creative naming!), watching a pair of Sandhill Cranes fly over us:



We could hear a lot of birds but see only a few in the car park we'd stopped in (the lake was empty), however some phishing produced a Yellow-rumped Warbler:




Another stop near Big Lake at the local library produced unexpected habitat, complimented with a boardwalk, from which we enjoyed watching a pair of Trumpeter Swans (the book was bang on in this respect), the male here:



The female remained on the nest for the duration of our visit. I can also recommend the drive-through coffee shop on the way back to the highway!

There are a number of scenic turnouts en route to Denali, offering differing views, here's one such:




Though you'd be hard pushed to beat this from the first Mount McKinlay/Mount Denali viewpoint on the road north:



We arrived at our accommodation, the Motel Nord Haven, which is located in Healy, nine miles north of the park entrance. The motel is very good, with rooms well equipped with a kitchenette, including a rice cooker, should you ever find yourself in the vicinity. Also try and find Mountain View grocery & liquor in Healy, we wish we had at the start of our trip, rather than the end...

We had time before dinner to drive to the park, chat with rangers and take a relatively short trail of three miles before heading to the Wilderness Access Centre to reserve our seats on the first bus of the next day at 7am.

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