The place of the Dall sheep

Posted: August 14, 2012 in America

After spending two days at Anchorage, we drove to Denali with a rented car. Denali was quite far, and we rested after reaching Denali at around sunset. The next day, we went to Denali National park, one of the more famous one here in Alaska. We got on a shuttle bus at the main center and begin our tour in this super-large national park.

Denali National Park is a place full of wildlife, and thus, famous for it. This national park was created for the protection of Dall sheep, a beautiful but endangered animal with long, curved horns. This park covers a wide space and different stops are located at places that are near to trekking trails or campsites. Although the whole road is about 90 miles long, only the first 15 miles are accessible by private cars. Our destination, a stop named Eielson (located around mile-post 60), has a few trekking trails and the breathtaking scenery of the beautiful Mount Mckinley, the tallest mountain of North America. Plus, with its informational visitor center, many of the tourists go there. Though Eielson center is 60 miles away, it takes about 3 hours to get there because of the road conditions and wildlife + scenery viewing.

The bus we took was full with tourists and we took off around mid-morning. The road of the first 15 miles is paved, and private cars are able to access this road. The trees were high, and it was quite difficult to see any wildlife. Most of the bushes and plants are short after entering the second section, so we might be able to spot any wandering animals from quite a distance.

After about half an hour on the bus, someone spotted a few caribous grazing grass on a large open field. It was really far away and we can’t see them clearly even with our binoculars. Seriously, the guy who spotted the caribous must have really sharp eyesight. Tourists on the bus also saw a few Dall sheep at the edge of a hill. It must be quite far away, because I can’t really see them. Just before we reached Eielson, we saw a big grizzly bear walking around the wide open green beside us. We stopped for quite a long time and observed the movements of the bear.

The whole Eielson center was covered in mist. We followed the crowd into the visitor center, and then spent about an hour looking at the information provided at that place. Because of this bad weather, Mount Mckinley is covered by a thick wall of mist, fog, and clouds. We weren’t too lucky, but since Mount Mckinley is visible only an average of one day in July, you must really have a lot of luck to be able to see the highest mountain in North America.

We decided to give up on the guided trek because we can’t really see anything with this mist, so we went on a little hike just at a small trail beside the visitor center. Lots of beautiful flowers bloomed at the sides of the trail, and we took a lot of pictures. We even saw a bear with cubs (though it’s quite far away) at the other side of the canyon after the fog cleared up a bit.

We left on the same shuttle bus and made our way back. On the way back, we saw two Dall sheep sitting on a rock at a cliff just beside our bus. Dall sheep have two beautiful and curved horns. They are good rock climbers and usually take refuge on steep cliffs and hills because no predator would hunt them there. The two sheep we saw we sitting on different rocks on a steep cliff, resting. We took quite a few photos because tourists seldom get to see them that near. We reached the main center after 3 hours then took our car back to the hotel.

Today was a lucky day because we get to see 3 out of the 5 main wildlife of Denali National Park. We saw the Grizzly, the Dall sheep, and the Caribous, but did not spot any moose (which we should have) or wolves (they are really rare). It was a fun day, though.

First photo from the left: Caribou, Bear with cubs, Dall sheep, Wandering coyote (click picture for a better view)

  1. anynomous says:

    nice one. just the photos are too small lah!

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