Our extended tour of Denali National Park lasted over 8 hours and we did manage to see bears but only a long way away.
Thursday 19th July 2018
The best news about this room was that the bed was extremely comfortable and we both had a great night’s sleep. We had to be ready to board our Denali expedition bus at 8 am outside the main building. Breakfast was in the coffee shop on the lower level of the Main Lodge.
I queued for the packed lunches that we had ordered on the train. Our name on the list had a mark against it. Despite having a receipt that said we had paid for the lunch, the lodge’s system reported that the payment had been declined. Linda then had to go back and join the queue to make yet another payment
All the lunch boxes came with an orange, not particularly practical for eating on a bus. Like everyone else I exchanged the oranges for bananas. My breakfast was a packet of porridge with fruits, tea and a large Danish.
After breakfast we went to the front of the Main Lodge to watch the tour buses arrive. The buses for the park tours were more like school buses but had a mild camouflaged paint scheme. The first ones to arrive were for the shorter free Denali Natural History Tour.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour
Price from $l65.00 / $85.00 child
Approximately 8 hours
This comprehensive full-day tour travels deep into Denali National Park for the best possible wildlife, Denali viewpoints and a host of magnificent vistas. Travel into the Park to the Stoney Hill Overlook Rest Area as it offers wonderful diversity for visitors.
Incredible scenery, a narrated history of the Park Road and some of the best, opportunities to view the park’s wildlife inhabitants await you on this tour.
When your tour driver is able, they will take video footage of animals along the road and project the image onto the screen to offer a close-up look at the action.
Excursion length: Park tour is approximately 7-8 hours. Due to Park Service regulations, school buses are used. The buses do not have restrooms: however stops are made approximately every 90 minutes. Departure times are staggered and will be assigned in Denall.
Start of the tour
We were on tour number 17 and this bus arrived on time at 8 am. It was a relief to see that the seats on the bus were padded and even more that they were comfortable.
After the obligatory safety talk about the bus we were told about how to behave once in the park. We were asked not to hoot or holler if we saw animals particularly bears. Hikers in the park remain safe by making noises as they walk through areas with bears. This would give any bears time to move away and particularly they would not be startled and react aggressively. If visitors on buses made lots of noise then the bears would get used to the human voices and might one day ignore the voices and then be startled by the hikers.
On our seats we had a snack with packets of nuts, energy bars, crisps and beef jerky. On the overhead shelf were two large trays of bottled water. Just as important we were promised toilet breaks at about 90 minute intervals. The snack box had a map of the park on its top.
The courier from a large party of guests on a hosted holiday told the rest of us that a member of their party was extremely allergic to nuts. This meant we were all asked not to open any of the provided nut snacks.
We left the resort and turned right to go back over the river bridge and past the Princess Cruises train stop to enter the park.
The road into the park was a public access road with no restrictions. Just inside the park a moose appeared on our left hand side browsing on bushes at the side of the road. This brought all the traffic to halt.
Our driver pulled out his video-camera and with the TV screens down we could all see the moose close up.