Make Denali National Park the next stop on your Roadtrip

Every National Park his its own merits and misgivings, Denali National Park wins outright for freedom, escaping the crowds and that feeling of untouched wilderness. These are only achievable if you get off the shuttle bus through the park and hike, there are no routes, you can walk anywhere you like.
Here are the reasons to make Denali a must see on your next road trip:

d2There are no Backcountry Trails
Contrary to how this sounds, there is backcountry available, the novelty being there are no set routes. You choose an area (or areas) with permits available and make your own way around using a topographical map, or gut instinct. You will encounter many natural barriers, rivers, ledges, scrub; you must learn how to cross them and how to camp leaving no trace.

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You won’t see anyone for days
Hiking out in the park is an incredible experience and one that is extremely solitary, likely the only living beings you will see for the entirety of your hike are the caribou, moose and maybe a bear, if you are lucky. Other National Parks, especially in the USA, have a ‘theme park’ feel due to their popularity and accessibility to all.

Backcountry permits are FREE
That’s right, whereas most other National Parks will charge you left, right and center for all types of permit, Denali gives them out for nothing; so long as there is space you can get a permit for the area that appeals to you most. Before you are given the permit you have to watch a film to ensure you know how to be ‘bear aware’ and how to safely cross rivers as Denali has no bridges.

Have the ‘real’ wilderness experience
Following a set route with a well marked path is great fun and how National Parks will usually set up their backcountry, oftentimes you don’t have to do a whole lot of navigating or even consider where you should be camping. Denali allows you the freedom to decide for yourself and sometimes it is inconceivably difficult to know whether you have made the right decision, but ultimately the experience is so rewarding.

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There’s an abundance of wildlife
If you stay on the bus you will likely just see caribou for the entirety of the ride, head out into the wilderness and there are so many creatures from wolves to eagles. Imagine waking up in the morning, opening your tent and seeing moose running past; it is an extraordinary sight to behold.

Endless sunlight
…In the summer that is. Lost? No worries, it will be light until 2 a.m. anyway, so keep on walking. This also messes with your body clock, waking you up in the middle of the night and thinking it is morning; checking the time and realizing you still have hours of sleeping ahead of you.

Are you persuaded yet to make Denali National Park the next stop on your roadtrip? Great! Start planning your route along the Alaska Highway and enjoy the adventure.

 

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How to stay ‘Bear Aware’

BearWhilst on your travels in North America you may be lucky enough to encounter a bear, if you do see one hopefully it will be from your vehicle or at a distance, but if you run into one on the trails you should be prepared. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible place and know how to use it, follow these tips to stay safe and keep bears wild.

Make noise, especially when walking through areas of brush and trees. Shout or sing as you walk, if a bear hears you coming it will likely leave before you reach it.

If you come across a bear and it is yet to see you, leave the area in the direction you came as quickly and quietly as possible.

If you encounter a black bear at a close range make yourself seem as large as intimidating in possible, if there are a few of you group together wave your poles in the air, speak in a calming appeasing voice and continue facing the bear. Back away from the bear calmly and waving your poles, never turn your back as this can trigger the animal’s predator instinct.

If the bear turns away it may be getting ready to charge at you, this doesn’t mean it wants to fight, it is trying to give a warning that you are invading its territory. If the bear charges at you stand your ground, and deploy the bear spray, shout, throw rocks and act aggressively. If the bear persists you will have to fight, use anything you can; rocks, logs, poles. Shout, stamp your feet and make yourself intimidating.

If a grizzly sow with cubs attacks and makes contact, play dead, get into the foetal position face down with your hands protecting your head and neck. Keep your backpack on as this will add protection, keep your knees wide to prevent the bear from rolling you over. Grizzlies usually attack when they feel threatened, if you are playing dead you are no longer a threat to them and they should leave. You will have to wait in the foetal position until the bear has left the area, be certain the bear has gone before moving and seeking medical attention.

Bears are amazingly intelligent and once they associate humans/ tents/ cars with food they will correlate the two forever. By leaving food around your campground instead of storing it properly you are assisting the bear in it’s demise. National parks usually provide bear proof containers for items or suggest leaving food in a locked car, regulations vary between parks. Don’t leave out any kitchenware or items that contained food and drink as they will still smell interesting to the bears and provoke their curiosity.