Small Planes and Big Mountains
After spending a day at Denali National Park, and another day driving through Denali State Park, we still had not filled up on this beautiful mountain and the Alaska Range. So the third day, we moved the rig over to Talkeetna, just 50 miles away from Denali State Park. We made last minute reservations with Talkeetna Air Taxi, which was only one of several air flightseeing services in Talkeetna, but highly recommended. The next day we were quite up in the air!
The Challenge of Denali National Park
Our first day in the area, we called Denali National Park for reservations on one of the bus trips into the park. Although you can take a private vehicle in a limited way, most of the route is restricted to the tour buses. This, of course, is done to limit the impact of vehicles and travelers on the park. So the night before, we called for reservations. The clerk on the phone said, “
So we took the driving route in as far as we could. It was beautiful. We saw bears and moose and loved every minute.
So Do Not Drive By Denali State Park
The second day, the weather was astounding. They say that 80% of the people that try to see the peak of Mt. Denali actually see clouds instead. But we hit perfect weather and from the pull-outs in the Denali State Park, we had amazing views. What a day!
Talkeetna Made the Week Perfect
Only an hour away, we pulled into the town of Talkeetna. I have to say, the $25 fee to dry camp in a parking lot seemed a little excessive. But hey, what can you do?
Our tickets for the Talkeetna Air Taxi ran over $350 per person. It was the only time in four months we spent that kind of money on an excursion. Money so well spent.
Getting on a small plane is a little scary for me. But the people at TAT we friendly and clearly competent. We received overboots for our shoes and earphones for our time on the plane.
So in the two-hour flight, this excellent pilot rattled into our earphones the names of every peak, the stories of climbers who succeeded and those that failed, and tales from the residents of the mountain, prehistoric and modern. He was a veritable encyclopedia, and we loved every minute of it.
Mt. Denali is the highest mountain on the continent at 20,310 feet. It rises above the Alaskan Range. If Denali were not there, each of the mountains in the range would be a reason to take a flight to see them.
Several glaciers flow out of the Alaska Range. When they come together, they are much like two streams joining. But because this is ice, each of the flows maintain their own paths, side by side.
The Alaska Range was formed by the uplift of two tectonic plates colliding, the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. Much of what looks like volcanic calderas is actually the action of the glacial ice cutting the rock over millennia. As far as geologists can determine, there has been no actual volcanic activity in this range. This is surprising
After traveling in and out of the range, naming off peak after peak, the pilot dropped down to land on the glacier. We walked around in the snow in the middle of July. The overboots were highly appreciated.
Dropping out of the heights of the mountains, we flew over the braided meanderings of the Susitna River. The land is suddenly flat here and farmers love the glacial soil. We have returned to the Alaskan summer, and our journey continues.
Read More About our Alaska Road Trip