Wildlife And Wilderness Camping
... So still in the visitor center we bought some maps and had
to attend the backcountry introduction. It was mainly about how
to behave with regard to bears: all food and smelly stuff goes into
bear boxes; don't bring too much of it; triangle camp - food storage -
kitchen with wind blowing from camp; route selection; bear encounters;
nature; ... very good information but we hoped we'd not need to much
of it. Next stop was the general store in town. Shopping for three
sandwich meals. Not much choice. And then back to camp where we had
to prepare tons of sandwiches and our backpacks. We only had three
backpacks. Eric needed one for himself carrying a tent, food, sleeping
bag, camera and more. So we had two big packs left four the six of us
for tents and our two bear boxes with food. Personal belongings,
cameras, sleeping bag and water had to go into the personal day packs
(or on top of them or however). So we packed two tents (a total of
about 25 kilograms) into one and the two food boxes into the other
backpack and added personal belongings too. But even though nobody
really believed it, we managed to pack everything.
Next morning we took the camper bus around 9 am (that's the one we had
the reservation for). We were very surprised. The camper bus was not
full and there was a lot of spaqce for equipement. Already the relaxed
bus ride was worth taking the adventure. But then the weather was
not too good. In fact it was raining all the time and it was quite
cold. We took a few foto stops on the way into the park. We saw
quite some wildlife. Ptarmigans, cariboo, variopus birds and small
animals and a few bears from very far. A bit more about the bus ride:
YOu must get a ticket in advance. Normal tourist buses are usually
fully booked a few days in advance. So book early. Camper buses should
have enough seats since camping spots are limited. The park operates
a bus fleet of old school buses. So there's not too much comfort for
a potential 7 hours ride. Buses stop on request, either by passengers
inside or by people waiting for the next bus. But they only take as
many passengers as they have seats. You may change buses on the way.
But it's not a good idea for campers. Buses also take longer stops at
visitor centers and view points (some with toilets). But you must know
yourself when your bus continues.
We finally arrived near Kantishna around 4pm. We discussed a strategy
for our hike in advance. So we left the bus at the junction near
Eureka Creek. There's a small road leading into the mining area. We
started on this road. It was about a 90 minutes hike along the road
and then another few minutes cross country till we found a nice
plateau, which fullfilled the requirements for an overnight
backcountry site (out of sight from the main road, a mile from
te main road and inside the boundaries of our camping cell). There
was still snow on the low bushes. So we found a spot with a bit
rocky ground. But it was warmer tan sleeping on snow. We set up
our two tents protecting each other against the wind. It was quite
windy and who knew about te night...
It was still cold but it stopped raining. At some point we could even
see Mount McKinley through a hole in the clouds. After a short
sandwich dinnerand minimal toiletry, we all squized into one single
tent (originally used by two people) and played cards. No, I don't
publish any of those pictures. Just imagine. And then, since it
was getting colder and colder, we decided to sleep in one tent. Ok,
Trevor prefered his own tent, but the five of us managed to share
one tent, for the whole night, without major problems. It was just
less cold and we were not blown away by the wind.
"Are you still alive???" Sebastian's sleepingbag was covered by
some ice. But we all survived. We didn't feel like doing too much
and so, after a late start and breakfast, we packed and left the
place. The weather was getting better. We went the same way back
and enjoyed the views down to Kantishna. We missed the early buses.
So we had to wait for the last one (early afternoon). We hiked till
about Camp Denali. But the bags were too heavy for a real long
On the way back, the bus stopped a few more times for wildlife. We
saw Mount McKinley (again), a wolf pack, a blond grizzley bear, some
goats and a lot more common species. It was worth it. Sorry,
unfortunatelly, most animals were quite far away.
Eric was already waiting for us at the visitor center. He took the
first bus in the morning. He had a miserable night, was freezing
all the time (should not sleep on the soft bushes if there's snow).
We decide to have a pizza for dinner. Three pizzas were just too
much, We were so tired. We took the rest with us. They server for
lunch the next day on the way south...
And can you imagine how much we loved the shower back on Carlo
- Backcountry camping - wilderness experience
- Beautiful hikes
- Drop out and pick up at the Denali N.P. visitor center
at park entrance.
Hints and Tips
- Have enough film for good colors ready. Slides are worth it.
- Be prepared to take photos from the bus.
- Shout if you want the bus driver to stop. They stop for
photos if possible.
- Be well prepared and well equiped if you go backcountry
- Store food in bear boxes (provided by ranger for backcountry
- Buy a good TopoMap (waterproof topographic map).
Outside Denali N.P.: Carlo Creek Campground
Phone: (907) 683-2576
- Showers, toilets, laundry, (pay) electricity
- Very clean facilities
Denali N.P. backcountry camping: The Holy Macaroni Plateau
Near Wickersham Dome, Kantishna
- No facilities, great adventure
© April 2001 by