Yukon Territory

Savage River Campground to Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

4 September 2010 - Saturday

We were excited today, to be driving to Teklanika Campground.  Folks with reservations for "Tek" are able to drive past the checkpoint at Mile 15 to the campground at Mile 29.

First, the morning dog walk.  We asked the campground host if we could walk along a barricaded road towards the river.  He said, 'officially no, as dogs had to remain on the active roads'.  Then he added that most people do walk their dogs along that road and he hadn't been stopping them and no one "official" had said anything about it.  We interpreted that to mean, "just do it and don't ask permission."

And so we strolled towards the river.  Although we also kept in mind the rule that dogs are NOT permitted on the river banks or gravel bars around the river.  Apparently this is because these areas are frequented by the wildlife and it is best if there is not dog scent or sign in these spots.  So we kept a good distance from the river and I took some photos with the zoom lens. 

View near Savage River campground in Denali National Park
Southward view on the Savage River in Denali

The skies were overcast and the fall colours were intense.  The landscape looks very different in the fall than during the summer!  Likely looks a whole lot different in the winter too! 

View near Savage River campground in Denali National Park
View south from near Savage River campground

Back at camp we loaded up and headed out.  Check in time at the Teklanika campground is 11 a.m.  We planned to be at the Mile 15 checkpoint at about 10:30. 
We figured that would get us to Teklanika at about 11 a.m.

Driving to Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
Scenery soon after the Savage River where a permit is required to go further  - N63 43.806 W149 19.771

Steve drove slowly and we enjoyed the sights.  There wasn't much traffic to endure past the checkpoint.  The ranger indicated drivers were permitted to pull over and stop, as long as other traffic wasn't impeded.   We were also told if a bus came along behind us, to pull over and let it by.  It is also important, we were told, to use our signal lights in a specific manner to communicate with the bus drivers.

We pulled into a road widening (N63 43.166 W149 24.60) and Steve took out the binoculars.  He spotted these caribou in the distance!  The 100-400mm lens was at full zoom with the hood of the truck as my tripod.  Also had to crop the photos significantly, which made me appreciate the 18 megapixel images. 

Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska
Caribou resting in Denali National Park

Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska
Two caribou with antlers in different stages of shedding the velvet - the red antlers have shed it all

Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska
And the "other one", with antlers in the process of shedding the velvet -
this image is heavily cropped so quality isn't very impressive!

It was great to see some wildlife!  It made us more enthused about camping in the park.

Driving to Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
The road is good driving, but dirt surfaced - N63 43.429 W149 24.552

The scenery and mountains were soothing, despite clouds in the sky.  My little Canon point & shoot continued to take great shots out the truck window while Steve drove. 

Driving to Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
Roadside view in Denali National Park - N63 43.614 W149 26.851

Further along the valley opened up ...

Driving to Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali Road headed towards Teklanika Campground - N63 42.898 W149 31.763

There was an area where no stopping was permitted.  The signs indicated it was due to the moose rut.  We hoped to see some moose! But, the only ruts were on the road!

Driving to Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali's road headed west - N63 42.772 W149 32.669

All too soon we reached Teklanika Campground at mile 29.  Kind of sad as it meant we couldn't drive any further on the road.  We were enjoying the trip!

Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
Sign at Teklanika Campground at Mile 29 - N63 40.207 W149 34.632

There are two campsite loops at Teklanika.  First we drove around the far one.  There were a couple of sites available with only one large enough for our rig so we backed in to it.  I leashed the dog and walked the other loop.  There were a handful of sites open.  I got excited when I saw the site below; it was large and along the river!  Using the walkie talkie I urged Steve to come on over and meet me!  This was perfect for us!

Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
Our campsite at Teklanika Campground

After lunch it was time to walk Tazz.  Dogs permitted only on the roads so decided to walk further into the park.  The Teklanika rest area was just a mile or so further.  It had some nice views of the river.

Teklanika rest area, Denali National Park, Alaska
View of Teklanika River from the Teklanika rest stop for the buses on the Denali Road

The bridge crossing the river was in the distance.

Teklanika rest area, Denali National Park, Alaska
Bridge crossing the Teklanika River

Back at the campsite I strolled along the river bank without Tazz.  She seemed very tired, which was unusual for a young high-energy dog!

The hills across the river were in glorious fall colours! 

Teklanika Campground in Denali National Park, Alaska
View across the Teklanika River from near the campground

The campsites filled up during the next few hours.  Our bus passes were for tomorrow.  We had to take separate trips as it wasn't reasonable to leave Tazz alone for 12 hours.

Steve wanted to see wildlife.  I wanted to take pictures of THE mountain.  Thus, we decided if tomorrow was overcast he'd take the bus but if it was clear I would take the bus.  Then the other would go the next day.

The evening was quiet.  Generator use is restricted at the campground so at 8 p.m. silence settled into the area.  We decided to go to bed early because the first bus by the campground was also early. 

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