There is only one road in the park. With only the first 15 miles open to cars, the only option to see the rest of the park is through an organized bus tour or shuttle. We chose the Kantishna experience full day tour, which goes to the end of the only road in the park. It was a very, very long day on a bus. The stops are only in designated places for a short period of time and there is not enough time to really enjoy the park. Next time, we’ll just take a shuttle to Eielson Visitor Center and hike around there.
Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in Denali, didn’t show up from behind the clouds, but we were lucky it didn’t pour on day of the tour. The next day, the visibility was a lot worse and the rain did not stop for the next three days.
A NPS ranger joined us for a couple hours at the very end of the road. She gave us some history about the gold mining past of the park and about the people who made that harsh environment their home. One of them was Fannie Quigle, who was an amazing woman, hunter and prospector who called Kantishna home.
After the tour we hopped in the car and drove to the end of the 15 mi road and did a quick hike by the river. On the way back, two caribou with giant antlers blocked our path. We made some noise to let them know we are there. They looked up at us for a sec then continued to graze on the grass. Those antlers looked dangerous, so we had to wait for them to move off the trail before going on.
The clouds were moving in by the time we were done with hike and because it was past 10 pm, although the sun was still up, it was time to go to the hotel.