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Alaska Road Trip We are obsessed with travel. We believe in planning well spending wisely and indulging when necessary. Our blog highlights some of our most incredible adventures. Discover adventure with a side of luxury

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After our long drive of the Dalton Highway through the Alaskan wilderness we felt back to civilization in a sense and returned our Jeep to Arctic Outfitters trading it for a “normal” rental car and headed south to Denali National Park. We chose to visit Alaska in September for a few different reasons…avoidance of the crowds and flies associated with summer travel and a chance to spy the Northern Lights. Note though that Denali’s summer bus service stops the second week after Labor Day each year. Thus our visit was the final day of the busy service. Once the bus service ends for the season cars are only permitted to drive the road up to 30 miles and then must turn around. The exception to this is the Road Lottery an event wherein winners of a lottery system may buy a permit to drive the entire road if weather allows on the second weekend after Labor Day. Once significant snowfall accumulates the park road frequently can’t be driven further than Mile 3 Park Headquarters. Alaska Road Trip

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Alaska Road Trip Denali Bus We chose the transit bus which is a non narrated bus that travels into Denali’s interior as far as Wonder Lake 85 miles from the start of the park and about a 5 hour bus ride. These are green buses that you can hop on or hop of throughout the day for one set fee of 60. Because we traveled on the last day of the park’s summer bus schedule it was crowd free

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AND a surprise 8 inches of snow made for a diferent Denali than most people experience. While the snow blanketed everything in a beautiful white unfortunately it completed obscured any chance of actually seeing Denali formerly Mt. McKinley. Cloud cover commonly obscures Denali and statistics say that only 1 in 3 visitors see and unobstructed view. However we witnessed many moose and saw a glorious grizzly bear happily rolling in the snow as well as a herd of Dall sheep. Wonder Lake if the weather is perfect afords amazing views of Denali which can be seen in refection in the blue waters of the lake. Also at the end of the bus route is the McKinley Bar Trail. This trail takes you from the Wonder Lake Campground to the McKinley River gravel bar. It’s an easy fat out and back with acres of spruce trees. As it was the last day of the season we cut it much closer than we should have to catch not only the last bus of the day but of the entire season..we had to run that last mile and caught the bus as it was pulling away. Close call. This bus is pretty no frills so bring whatever you’ll need for the day food drinks clothing layers etc. We hopped on/of with zero waits though in the summer the bus is frst come frst served so you may have to wait until a bus has free seats in the direction you a heading either into or out of the park. Alaska Road Trip

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Alaska Road Trip

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Savage Alpine Trail Our second day in Denali we drove in to Mile 13-15 and parked our car at the trailhead for the  Savage Alpine Trail. This trail is four miles and connects the Savage River area with Savage River Campground. In the summer season you can use the Savage River Shuttle to travel back to your starting point if you need to pick up a car or use it to return to the park entrance if you have no vehicle..given the time of year we walked about two miles along the park road back to our car. This hike has a bit of a vertical ascent at the start and likely has beautiful views but all that snow made staying on the trail difcult and marred the views quite a bit. When hiking in Alaska I would strongly suggest bear spray. We bought our at Fred Meyer which sells just about everything you could possibly imagine…food clothes bear spray and they’ll even make  you a sandwich. Defnitely stop here to stock up. Fortunately we never had to use that bear spray though I worriedly carried mine in a little holster on my hip the whole time.

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Alaska Road Trip 49th State Brewing Company Our lodging in the Denali area was at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. We chose this lodge as it was less than a mile from the park’s entrance it is located on the banks of the Nenana River and they have a charming log cabin atmosphere with expansive decks that jut out over the river. They do have on site dining options but we chose a couple of local establishments. A word of caution though

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like the bus tours this lodge closes September 16th and so do many of the surrounding eateries. The Black Bear is a cafe/cofeehouse that is worth a stop..I can personally recommend a delicious homemade apple cake. We also dined at the The Denali Park Salmon Bake which gets great reviews though we only experienced late night snacks at the bar. In my opinion though the can’t miss local restaurant is the 49th State Brewing Company located 8 miles from Denali. They have an award winning brew an outdoor beer garden and you can even see a replica of the bus that Alex McCandless from the novel Into The Wild called home. They have a sophisticated pub menu and welcoming atmosphere and you can buy some cool merchandise. Alaska Road Trip Talkeetna From Denali we made a pit stop at Talkeetna en route to Anchorage. Talkeetna is small town Alaska at it’s fnest. There is only one paved road Main St lined with clapboard stores funky local galleries and a brewery. There is way more to do in Talkeetna than our brief lunch stop permitted. Flightseeing tours of Denali leave

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from the local airstrip and it’s a jumping of point for Denali climbers. One of the best pullouts to see Denali is just before driving into Talkeetna. We dined at the Denali Brew Pub see pics where my husband had an amazing beer infused with cofee and I had a spiked root beer.   Alaska Road Trip We concluded this leg of our journey with a short stay in Anchorage which consisted of one an overnight stay at the  Hotel Captain Cook. We scored a corner room and ironically miles from Denali National Park here we had our frst view of Denali Despite being hundreds of miles away the towering mountain reached into the clouds and was still impressive in its size. We also saw a very brief but bright display of the Northern Lights that shone through the light pollution of Anchorage. After a long day of driving we stretched our legs on the  Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which is an 11 mile trail that you can pick up at various points in the city and

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walk as much as you’d like and glimpse Denali from a distance. Dining here in Anchorage was at the Glacier Brewhouse a short walk from our hotel which is known for Alaskan seafood and roasted meats and has a warm ambiance and crackling fres.   Alaska Road Trip Denali did not disappoint. Granted we did not see the mountain from the park but a grizzly rolling in the snow surpassed our expectations and gave a chance to see a side of the park that few experience. Furthermore our favorite parts of Alaska were still to come

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