The drive up on Saturday was perfect. We made a stop at the South Denali Viewpoint at Mile 135 of the Parks Highway. The view of the mountain from here is stunning. The downside is that 80% percent of the time the mountain is obscured by clouds. McKinley is large enough that it creates it's own weather pattern. Early morning is typically the best time for seeing it.
The Veteran's Memorial at Mile 147 is another great stop.
Just south of Cantwell while traveling through Broad Pass we came across 3 caribou. It's only the second time I've seen caribou in the wild and this was the closest I've ever been. Later in the evening we drove into Savage River at mile 15 of the Denali Park Road. We saw 4 caribou there too.
The Denali Park Road goes about 90 miles into the park but private vehicles are not allowed past mile 15 most of the time. Past that you access the park on the shuttle buses. One exception is in the fall road lottery, where a limited number of vehicles are allowed travel the full length of the road at the end of the season. We were lucky enough to do that last year and I did a post about it here, here and here.
For lodging we stayed at the White Moose Lodge. It's an older place with very basic accommodations, but it was only $85 for a room and it was clean. For dinner we all at Rose's Cafe. I had never eaten there, and it was great. I'm looking forward to eating there again sometime.
The next day before driving home we did a picnic lunch at Otto Lake Park, just down Otto Lake Road. There was still ice on the lake, but it was melting fast.
We then made a quick stop at the Nenana River just north of the Park entrance. They normally do river rafting here, but there was still too much ice at that time. But in just the few moments we were there, a big ice jam let go. Where the highway crosses over Kingfisher Creek, the snow and ice was completely packed in under the bridge, but the melting water had cut a channel through the it.
We made another stop at the South Denali Viewpoint but today the top part of the mountain was hidden in the clouds, with just the tip peaking out.
Normally with my blog post I include pictures of the views. For this one I put all the pictures into a very basic video and set it to music from the Piano Guys. I'm not exactly thrilled with the results... YouTube dumbed down the quality of the photos by quite a bit... But at this point I'm too lazy to do something different.