Anyone who has driven up Hwy 3 from Anchorage towards Fairbanks, or who has planned a land-based vacation in Alaska, is familiar with Denali National Park. But I wonder how many people realise that Denali State Park straddles the highway just south of its bigger, more famous brother, providing unsurpassed views of the Alaska Range, including Denali itself (or Mount McKinley, if you prefer).
On our first night out from Anchorage, we stayed in the small settlement of Talkeetna, just outside Denali State Park. At the point where the road drops down into the village is a marvellous viewpoint of the Alaska Range. Unfortunately, that evening the view was less than spectacular. In fact, there wasn’t a mountain to be seen, thanks to a thick blanket of low cloud. And the forecast for the next day was worse. It seemed we were destined to pass within a few miles of the tallest mountain in North America, without even seeing it.
The next morning, Rich woke up early, nosed through the curtains, and immediately leapt out of bed. It was barely dawn, yet the sky was already blue… But for how long? Despite not having had her morning coffee, Sue gamely got dressed and allowed Rich to drag us all back to the viewpoint we’d passed the evening before. We didn’t even pause to brush our teeth. After all, this might be our one shot at seeing this Bucket List mountain!
I have to admit, the sight that awaited us was well worth the unseemly rousing. A thin layer of cloud still hung around the summits of the Alaska Range, but still their flanks glowed orange in the first rays of the sun.
As it turns out, although I was glad to see Denali at sunrise, we needn’t have worried about missing the mountain. The weather forecasters couldn’t have been more wrong. We returned to our guest house, Sue had her coffee without committing murder (although it was definitely on the cards for a short while – but that’s another tale), we showered, packed up and left.
And by the time we reached Denali State Park, just a short drive up Hwy 3, the weather couldn’t have been more ideal! Instead of the predicted view-obscuring, miserable rain, it was a bright, warm day, with barely a cloud in the sky. The vista of Denali, its glacier-capped summit an astounding 20,237 feet high, was simply breathtaking.
This post was inspired by the themes Strong from Ailsa (of Where’s My Backpack?), Endurance from Krista (of the Daily Post), Blue from Dale (of Spun With Tears) and Cerulean from Jennifer (of Jennifer Nichole Wells).
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