On Tues, Fred and I went on a bus tour to Kantishna, the end of the 90 mile park road. We saw a lot more wildlife (and closer) than we had even imagined seeing. The signs at the visitor’s centers and in the publications list the “Top 5 large mammals" in Denali – Grizzly Bear, Dall Sheep, Moose, Wolves, and Caribou. We managed to see all of these, and more!
Dall sheep like to hang out on the hill sides.
This guy looks like he is contentedly “surveying his kingdom”.
Caribou usually hang out in herds, but we saw more of them just standing around by themselves. We saw, maybe, 30 caribou in all.
This bull moose was happily munching some willow brush, while a photographer with a large camera on a tri-pod (I didn’t get his picture) was hiding about 75 ft away. I wouldn’t have been that brave…..
The moose was at least 6 feet tall at the shoulder.
Then, the bears! We had several bear sightings, but this momma and her 2 cubs were crossing a stream just below us.
The bears fur was longer and shaggier than I had expected.
The cubs pranced and played their way across the stream.
We had 2 different wolf sightings. Both just along the side of the road. It surprised us that the wolves did not startle when the bus stopped and we all rolled down the windows and took pictures. They just kept on doing what they were doing.
This wolf was digging.- probably for a ground squirrel to eat..
This red fox stopped for a drink in the stream. It was so close that it could have gotten on the bus with us.
In addition to the major mammals, we saw a golden eagle, several falcons and ptarmigan (the Alaskan state bird).
We got pretty good at spotting wildlife. They are there, but they are allowed to be just whatever or wherever they want.For 8 months of the year, the road is covered in snow and allowed to be just a path through the park, so, the wildlife get used to the road and they seem to pretty much just ignore the tour buses. The tourists, for our part, are not allowed to interfere with the wildlife in any way. A pretty good system.
But, we DO try to heed the bear warnings and take precautions in high bear populated areas. ; - )