We had ordered boxed lunch to be picked up at grande denali. They were a bit expensive but came with a cooler pack as a souvenir. Packed rain gear. It was drizzling as the day started. Shuttle took us to the Denali bus depot. We were there by 5:50 am. Tour started at 6:40 am. Allen was our driver. Lot of instructions about dos and don't initially. This is the tundra wilderness tour. It is an 8 hour tour with a return point near Eilsen visitor center. It is 62 mile one way. We got a snack box used that for breakfast. It is a converted school bus, not that comfortable to sit. Driver hired us to watch for animals while he would keep us safe driving. He was surely driving a bit fast for spotting animals. It started with moose on the left within 5 miles of visitor center. Things change dramatically and quickly here. Spruce forests change alpine as we start going north. Elevation change. Even though it was raining Allen noted that the animals are quite comfortable in the rain and rain would not be an issue spotting animals. As the driver was going bit fast to spot animals. Soon we spotted grizzlies at a distance on a slope. Dall sheep was next. First animal to be spotted was a big moose. It was closer to the visitor center where big trees are plenty. We stopped at a rest stop about 90 minutes after. All the trash cans are completely covered and tamper proof. As we climbed in height we saw caribou on the plains below. It was difficult to see the antlers clearly as the animals were a bit far. We crossed the Polychrome pass area and stopped for the next break. This area has breathtaking views. The open Vistas and stone colors were awesome. While climbing up we has seen these 3 bears at a distance. One was young. Tundra wilderness tour ends at a turnabout close to Eilsen visitor center. We turned around, should be around 11:30 am now. Weather had gotten better. We stopped in a rest area where there was a bookstore and a souvenir shop. Interesting materials there. The bus continued the trip back and soon we saw buses in the opposite direction stop. This is a dead giveaway for spotting wildlife. We saw few more bears and caribou. After a turn in the road, we saw 2 buses stopped in the middle of the road. Crowd in our bus was trying to get a good look. People started pointing at the road. Yes, those 3 bears were walking on the road toward our bus. P1 TRIED TO PULL THE WINDOW DOWN for a good picture and Allen promptly stopped him from doing that. All 3 bears walked past our window without a hurry. This has hence become the highlight of our trip.
We came back to the visitor center fully satisfied. We got dropped at the bus depot. We took a local park shuttle to the visitor center and checked out exhibits and videos. By now it was already 3:30 in the afternoon. We came back to the bus depot and got the grande Denali shuttle back to the hotel. We got back to the hotel by 4:30 pm. After some rest, we walked around the hotel for some scenic views. We had the Denali dinner theater at the princess lodge. It started at 7:45. Hotel shuttled us back and forth. We also realized we got the grande Denali, because princess lodge was full. Grande Denali has the best views. Dinner theater starts with dinner first. Long ta less with about 25. Bread and salad shared among all first. We had requested vegetarian. Huge plate of Pasta Primevera. Lots of veggies as well, but not that spicy though. We knew how to spice it up. The servers are the ones performing as well. As soon as dinner was done, they went to the stage for the musical. Very nice program about the mountain and the first to ascend the summit. We went straight to bed after a long and satisfying day.