As mentioned in the last post, I wanted to continue to share some of the images and stories from our last trip to Alaska, so I’ll pick up back in Denali NP.
Fall is an amazing time of year to visit Denali … the wildlife has a sense of urgency to it and the landscape with the seasons changing, is nothing less than spectacular.
It’s always amazing to me how quickly the colors change and also how deep the colors get. Being from Florida and not getting to experience much seasonal “changing of the guard”, we really look forward to the colors, the cooler temperatures, and the lessening of the crowds.
Some of the most sought after wildlife in the fall are the moose, as they ready for the rut season. The cows (females) begin to congregate together and the bulls (males) are not that far behind.
Antlers begin to lose their velvet as the bulls begin to fight for the privilege of mating with their chosen cows. It’s quite an enticing time for all, as the hormonal surges occur, and just as exciting for the photographer.
Some of the younger bulls might hang around the cows, but eventually they’ll give up their spot to a more mature bull. Not to worry … their time will come.
Of course, Denali in the fall is more than just moose. There are caribou – also getting ready for their breeding season. The velvet on their antlers also sheds, as do the actual antlers on the male caribou whom are not quite ready to compete. The antlers on the females (yes they do grow a smaller set) are shed on those who do not get successfully bred, while those pregnant, retain theirs through the harsh winter.
Grizzly bear are always a fan favorite in Denali … whether it be an adult or sub-adult ………
or especially when they’re still a cub!
It’s not just the larger wildlife that draw attention. Arctic ground squirrels play a huge role in wildlife balance in the Denali ecosystem. Just love those guys!
As many of you know, I just adore owls of all types, so one evening when we arrived at our campsite, I was delighted to hear the calling out of one. After investigating further, we found this great horned owl up in one the trees adjacent to our “home”. The light was quite challenging, but I wanted to share it anyways.
Of course, the biggest star of Denali is … well, Denali (aka Mt. McKinley) itself. This is an iconic view of “The Big One” from the Stony Point Overlook. In 2013, it was the first year that we didn’t get to witness the entire mountain in full view. Though it wasn’t complete, we’ll take it. 🙂
Any trip is more special when you’re able to share it with friends as well. In 2013, we had the honor of sharing one of our days with Darlene & Mike Bushue (and her dad). It was their first trip out.
Yes, Denali NP is such a special place to visit. Visiting for our 7th year, it never ceases to surprise me – for it’s always changing, but it always pleases the viewer and visitor.
Stay tuned for our travels into Fairbanks and Chena Hot Springs. 🙂