Going into the end of Week #2 in Alaska and I can hardly believe that we STILL haven’t seen a moose! This has never happened before … usually by now we’ve seen moose in and around Anchorage, cruising around the town of Homer, all along the Kenai Peninsula landscape, or at least on the Parks Highway on our way to Denali NP & Preserve. So, when we arrived at the entrance of Denali, I told Tom that he had better find me a moose and fast! LOL. But first, of course, we were treated to some wonderful early autumn colors blanketing the landscape.
As we cruised the first 15 miles (aka “Troll Road”) of the park road, our eyes scanned through the trees, off in the distance, near the ponds, and in the drainage ditches. Not to sound like a brat or anything, but I was getting discouraged quickly. Where did all of the Alaskan moose go? Finally, Tom told me to get my gear ready as he turned away our 28′ RV (not an easy task). Sure enough, there was a cow and her young one in the drainage area.
The drought was over! We had a “two-fer”! After some time, your eyes begin to adjust to spotting the moose … watching for movement through the brush and trees … looking for the “shine” of the bulls shiny antlers … and yes, looking for the “moose jams” along the roadside. Maybe that’s cheating a bit, but locating the moose in the weeks before, as well as during, the rut season is big business. We came across a young bull and his intended cow, though no one had yet informed him that he really had no chance with this lady. LOL.
After some time, as dusk was approaching, the moose seemed to be out congregating just about everywhere! By the time we finally called it a day and headed in for dinner, we had spotted I believe about 20 moose! If you don’t believe me, you can ask our friends Darlene & Mike Bushue or Rebecca Tifft, who were also out trolling with us. Now that’s what I call making up for lost time!
The next morning we set out to find more wildlife and wonderful landscapes within the parks interior.
We came across several bull moose almost immediately.
When we entered the Primrose area of the park, we came across some caribou grazing on the trees, leaves, and tundra. They simply amaze me with their antlers … so huge and sort of imposing … and I imagine how hard it must be for them to maneuver in the landscape. They sure are beautiful in the fall.
One of my favorite areas of the park has to be the Igloo Canyon area, but this year, we saw nothing much. Views along the way continued to be awe-inspiring!
As we approached Toklat River, we were treated to some “close” dall sheep. I say close because usually they’re either “microdots” or “rice with sticks” or right on the road. These were simply hanging out on the mountainside – not too far, but not that close either. Dall sheep and their protection is how Denali NP got its start, so it’s always great to see them!
Grizzly bear sightings were pretty good this year as well, though most were further from the road than normal. Not sure why. Most times they were grazing on the berries, which this year were in a boom crop … the bears should be happy with that.
At the end of the day, we always continued with our “moose trolling” and our luck continued. Sometimes it would be just one moose …
… sometimes two moose; sometimes bulls; sometimes cows.
A few of them were still shedding their velvet in preparation for the rut season, when the larger bull moose fight for the honor to mate with the females in the area. Those poor younger males never stand a chance. At this point, we were still a bit early for the rut, but we found it really interesting to watch them following around the females. Soon it will be a frenzy of hormonal surges with these guys!
We spent about 10 or so days in total at Denali this year, so I will have several posts on our Denali adventures. Stay tuned for more!