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LAst minute Denali day trip

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LAst minute Denali day trip

Hi we are staying at wasilla tonight and my husband just thought it would be awesome to visit Denali tomorrow and so I'm trying to figure out how to maximize our experience. We have our 5 year old daughter with us so we are looking for maybe a short hike that would be best for wildlife, and what else to do. We already have reservations for staying tomorrow night in palmer so it just has to be a short trip and we understand it's a 3 hour drive to and from the park already. Please give us any recommendation on highlights we could hit for tomorrow.

Thanks.

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Winnipeg, Canada
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1. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

"we are looking for maybe a short hike that would be best for wildlife"

Unrealistic expectation. And there is no point in driving 7 to 8 hours just to do a hike.

Why not visit the Reindeer Farm near Palmer? Maybe the Musk Ox farm too. Have you seen the Iditarod HQ yet? Most days you can get a short dog cart ride, plus they have an excellent film. If you want to hike, Hatcher Pass or Eagle River Nature Center.

Healy, Alaska
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2. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

I would save it for another time...it's closer to 4 hrs of driving...and without a bus ticket, why come? Lots to do in the area you are at.

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3. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

Lol that is what I orginally had planned was to do the reindeer farm, hatcher Pass and itirod hq, although he really wants to view Denali. Is it worth it to just drive up to mm 15? Could we see much wildlife on the drive? We only have seen a moose and a bear on our trip so far so we really are wanting to see some more wildlife.

fti
MN
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4. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

No it would not be worth it at all to drive all that way just to "view Denali." You can drive from Wasilla to about mile 68 on the Parks Highway (just before Willow) to get a view of Denali. If it is out, you can drive just north of Willow to a nice pullout on a lake on the west side of the road and view it from there.

Denali was out from the west/south side today (July 21) for a brief time this morning. There were clouds above the mountain but you could see both the south and north peaks. I was driving south about Mile 160-170 and saw it. By the time we got to Veterans Memorial (mile 147) it was clouded over. I think it might have come out again about 2pm or so and probably could have been seen even from Anchorage, but I didn't have the time to double check.

If you want to see wildlife in Denali you really have to spend 7-8 hours on a bus in Denali and that means you need more than a day trip.

Stick with the "guaranteed" wildlife by visiting the reindeer farm and the muskox farm!

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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5. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

Well if you want to see Denali Park and more wildlife, you really need a few days. One full day just for the shuttle ride and that is really a minimum to experience Denali. As someone once said on the forum, driving all the way to Denali for only the entrance area is like going to Disneyland and just staying in the parking lot.

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6. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

Thanks for the advice. I think we will just try to drive north a bit and skip driving all the way. We were thinking maybe talkeetna ? Is that the best recommendation and anything else we should see there ? We will plan on doing the ititrod in the morning and the Alaskan express kid train. Then driving north. We plan do doing reindeer farm Sunday.

Alaska
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7. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

Jmho.....but your original plan to head up to Hatcher Pass was kind of awesome! I would not do it from the Willow side, if you're in a rental car. There are amazing views, child appropriate cool hikes and Hatcher Pass is gorgeous, historical and worth it. Was just up there a couple weeks ago with a friend and we hiked the Gold Core Trail, up to the lake and little kids were running up the trail, and rock path with no fear and all fun! Park in the main upper lit and head back down the road and across to the trail head. Signs are posted.

No way I would go to Denali for a day trip, even from Wasilla, cause the drive is too long and the two lane road can be very monotonous. Talkeetna is a fun town to some, but super crowded in the summer, and your kiddo would probably have more fun hiking and runnng, than a day of sitting in vehicles. Hoping we get that sunshine they've been forecasting and if so, Hatcher is really sweet and views galore! Have a great day whatever you choose. ;-) Deb

Winnipeg, Canada
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8. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

Unless you're planning to flightsee from Talkeetna, I wouldn't bother driving the extra distance, especially with a 5 year old. *IF* Denali is out you can see it from the road near Willow as Fti said. There is really nothing to do in Talkeetna with a 5 year old except walk around the town and visit the Ranger Station or maybe a river float that is boring. Big whoop from the 5 year old's point of view....

If you've already seen a bear and a moose, you're ahead of most people. What other wildlife are you hoping to see? Mostly it is just a matter of luck. If you want to see beavers and salmon (and *possibly* a bear), do the short hike at Eagle River: http://www.ernc.org/trails/ernc-trails

If you'll be going south of Anchorage, for sure include Wildlife Conservation Center, where you'll see a variety of wildlife (mostly rescued) in a fairly natural setting. Also stop at Windy Pt. where you have a chance to see Dall Sheep. Potter Marsh for birds. Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform for salmon.

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9. Re: LAst minute Denali day trip

Thanks for the advice.

Edited: 22 July 2017, 23:53
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