Geo: 62.3239, -150.109
Finally! A beautiful, sunny morning, with clear, blue skies. We left our hotel in Fairbanks for Denali at 8:30, heading west on Hwy 3 along the Tanana River, with little or no traffic and temperatures in the 60's. After an hour we crossed over the river and turned south, thrilled at our first glimpse of Mt. McKinley surrounded by billowing clouds in the distance. Eventually we picked up the Kenana, continuing along the George Parks Hwy 3 towards Denali National Park.
We hit some major road construction along the way, and found ourselves following a pilot truck for about 5 miles, at one point traveling in a caravan right behind an earth grader. Along the way we had to yield to the caravan led by the pilot car coming from the opposite direction through the same construction area (a first) before we had reached the end of the road work! Very strange.
Temperatures continued to climb into the upper 70's. As Mt. McKinley grew closer, the surrounding mountains and peaks created some truly spectacular vistas. By the time we got to the entrance of Denali National Park, we had exhausted on camera battery. It was definitely a "Wow"
We visited the Park's information center, checking out some exhibits and watching an amazing film of scenes and animals in the park. After hitting the book store for a few souvenirs we continued into the park for 15 miles to the Savage River Trailhead and the turnaround point for all private vehicles. The snow covered peaks of the mountain range east of Denali was stunning.
We reluctantly got back on Hwy 3 and headed south, this time along the Susitna River, for our motel in Talkeetna. By then the temperature had risen to a wonderful 85. As we turned north again into the town, we were greeted with another fantastic panorama of Mt. McKinley and the neighboring peaks, Mt. Foraker and Hunter, in Denali.
We walked into town for a great meal at the Wildflower Café, where Janet had some wonderful fresh salmon. Afterwards, we walked around the town and down to the river to enjoy the warming, sunny evening.
Tomorrow we take a flightseeing air taxi over the Alaska Range and the Ruth Gorge, with a stop on one of Denali's glaciers! The weather Gods have seen fit to give us more beautiful weather for the flight.
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