Two hours situated from the house, was the nature reserve of Denali; a park consisting of millions of acres of amazingly pristine landscape. My companion had never been and wanted to visit before he left Alaska for good, so we made the arrangements.
The drive getting there wasn’t very long, and I got to see a bit of Alaska I hadn’t seen before which was nice. There were some really nice landings and scenic lookouts as we sped through the vastness of the state. He drove, as I hung out the window as I usually do, taking pictures and just being enthralled by the world around me. Before long, we came to a tiny town nestled in between a handful of mountains.
The visitor’s center was a medium sized building with the usual hiking/history posters hung up all over the walls. The cute, pierced, blonde behind the counter directed us to where we would pick up our tickets, then we made our way to the waiting area. Our tickets included a shuttle through 53 miles of the park (The other half of the reserve was closed due to snow and didn’t open until later on in the month).
We walked outside just as our bus hissed to a halt. Out stepped the hero of the day, Wayne. He was an older man, white hair, short stature and a weathered smile. He gave me a nod as he checked my ticket and ushered us aboard.
A quick review of the rules from the man in charge then the bus lurched forward and we began our journey into the reserve.
The landscape was in a steady shift every few miles; from dense trees, to long plains and ice sheets, then to the mountains as we started to climb in elevation.
Our ticket didn’t include a spoken guide, which was fine with me since I’m never really into guided tours. I much prefer the use of my own personal soundtrack, but Wayne took the opportunity to unleash his fount of knowledge upon the unsuspecting bus. The man was like a living archive. I’ve always been put to sleep by guides, but Wayne had so much information and he delivered it with such passion. It was hard not to be interested.
We cruised at a pretty steady pace, occasionally stopping for animals and to look out over the more impressive landings along the way. First scorpion of the trip!
The trip was breathtaking. I’d highly recommend to anyone visiting Alaska or looking for some serious camping/hiking in the area. Check out Denali….and ask for Wayne
-Visit Denali Nature Reserve