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The Road to Kantishna
The Road to Kantishna was originally written in September 2015
I literally just got home from driving the entire road into Denali National Park. My parents put in for the Denali road lottery for a chance to get a permit to drive the entire road and they won. So naturally, I invited myself along.
This will be short because well, I’m tired. I will do a better and more informative post on the road to Kantishna eventually. Pinky promise.
Our day for the drive was on Monday, September 21. We drove up to Healy on Sunday and had a room rented at the Denali Park Hotel. On our way to Healy we dropped by the park headquarters and picked up our lottery permit and paid for our park entrance (which is good for 7 days). After we checked in the room we drove back down to Denali National Park and drove in to Savage Creek before the sun set.
After our short drive we went and had dinner over at 49th State Brewery before heading to bed early so that we could get a good start in the morning.
The next morning we were driving into the park by about 7am as the sun was coming up.
The drive was scenic but uneventful for the most part until the road started to climb up along Sable Pass and Polychrome Mountain.
The first animals we came across were some dall sheep. There was one group of two young sheep out on a rock, and another group of three more mature sheep.
The pair of young sheep were quite the duo. One kept posing and the other was photobombing him.
Only a short drive up the road we next came to a grizzly bear rooting around in the snow.
Another short trip up the road and down off the mountain we had a bull moose cross the road right in front of us.
Before long we made it to mile 53: Toklat River. As we stopped in at the river, they had shut down the remainder of the road to Kantishna due to snow. They were unsure if the road would be opened back up. We waited. And waited. Then napped, ate snack and waited some more. Walked the dogs, had more snacks and waited. Finally about 3.5 hours later they opened the road back up. I guess some ding-dong slid off and got stuck in the mud along the side of the road and it took them a while to get the whole mess cleaned up.
By the point where the road opened again it was snowing pretty hard. From the Toklat River we started climbing up the road toward Eielson Lookout. On the way up there we came across another grizzly.
Normally you have a good view of the Alaska Range from Eielson, but that was not the case with all the snow, clouds and fog yesterday. We continued on to the end of the road at the Kantishna Airport with out much to see with the fog.
Finally at about 4pm we made it to the end of the 92.5 mile long road
On the way back we made a quick stop at Wonder Lake and Reflection Pond so I could get a few pictures.
We continued making our way back towards the park entrance. As we crossed past Polychrome Mountain we got to see the dall sheep again.
We saw yet another grizzly near the bridge crossing the East Fork of the Toklat River.
We saw our last wildlife on the way out of the park. Just after Savage River we saw three moose.
By 8pm we finally were leaving the park and back to Healy for one more night before driving home today.
So now I can say I have done the road to Kantishna, however, I’d like to spend some more time in Denali National Park
Maybe next time I’ll be able to see Denali.