Denali Highway and Denali National Park and Preserve

Long-tailed Duck, Ryan Askren

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Trip 2.  Denali Highway and Denali National Park and Preserve

Dates: Saturday, 22 June, to Tuesday, 25 June

Start and end times: Depart at 7:00 am on Saturday, June 22; return by 4:00 pm Tuesday, June 25.

Cost: AOS registration fee is $685 per person. This covers all costs except breakfast and dinner.

Maximum participants: 11

Meals: Lunch (sandwiches, drinks, and snacks) will be provided all four days. Breakfast and dinner will be purchased by participants at restaurants along the way.

Trip Leader(s): Rosa Meehan (retired USFWS), Melanie Smith (National Audubon Society), Emily Williams (National Park Service), TBA (Alaska Geographic)

Trip Description: Denali National Park and Preserve is a world-class destination for viewing wildlife and North America’s tallest mountain. The nearby Denali Highway is a 134-mile gravel road connecting Paxson and Cantwell, Alaska. This remote highway passes through glaciated wilderness scenery with sensational views of mountain peaks, tundra valleys, and glaciers. On this trip there is a good chance of seeing caribou, moose, dall sheep, brown bears, porcupines, wolves, foxes, and many species of birds (listed below).

On the first day we will drive from Anchorage to Paxson along the Glenn Highway, making a few stops on our way and passing by incredible scenery including the Chugach, Talkeetna, and Wrangell mountains and the Matanuska Glacier. We will arrive at the eastern end of the Denali Highway and stay the night at the Tangle River Inn. (Lodging will be double occupancy with shared bathroom/shower facilities.)

On the second day we will wake up early to catch the morning chorus and will spend all day exploring birding locations along the highway. This will include optional hikes to some higher ground to find upland birds and see the incredible scenery. We will end the day at the Denali Perch Cabins, which are on Carlo Creek between Cantwell and Denali National Park.

On day three we will spend a long day in Denali National Park and Preserve. We will be accompanied by two more resident guides from the National Park Service and Alaska Geographic. Our guides will help us find birds and mammals and talk about the ecology of the park while we ride a park bus to the Eielson Visitor Center and potentially as far as Wonder Lake. With good weather, this trip will offer spectacular views of Denali and the massive rivers and open tundra landscape of the park. We will spend a second night at the Denali Perch Cabins.

On the fourth day we will drive from Carlo Creek south through the Alaska Range, stopping to view Denali from the stunning Denali State Park south viewpoint, and making our way back to Anchorage by late afternoon.

Likely species:

Tundra and Trumpeter Swan, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Willow Ptarmigan, Golden Eagle, American Golden-Plover, Whimbrel, Wilson’s Snipe, Red-necked Phalarope, Lesser Yellowlegs, Arctic Tern, Mew Gull, Long-tailed Jaeger, Rusty Blackbird, Horned Lark, Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Alder Flycatcher, Arctic Warbler, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Common Redpoll, Blackpoll Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler

Possible species: all three species of scoter, Bufflehead, Rock Ptarmigan, Gyrfalcon, Semipalmated Plover, Red-throated, Pacific, and Common Loon, Short-eared Owl, Rock Ptarmigan, Surfbird, Lapland Longspur, Smith’s Longspur, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Wheatear

Recommended Gear and Cautions: The temperatures may range from 40 to 80 °F, and can be sunny, rainy, snowy, or windy. Come prepared by dressing in layers, including rain coat and pants, wind protection, winter hat, light gloves, and waterproof hiking shoes. You may want sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellent. Bring a water bottle and snacks, a daypack, camera, and binoculars.

denali 2