Denali NP - Spring Shoulder Season Exploring **Updated 5/9

** Edited 5/9 **

Conditions should be fairly good this weekend as the park has opened the Park Road to Teklanika for vehicle access.  The ranger station is reporting very good road conditions but a lot of snow off the road.  They also confirm that pit toilets are available at the campground.  There is very limited firewood so please bring plenty, as well as water and food.  There is a chance for rain - below is the latest forecast.

Description: Denali National Park is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,320' Mount McKinley. Wild animals large and small roam unfenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.

The spring shoulder season is well under way and will end May 15.  I want to take advantage of this time as we are able to drive ourselves down the park road and wander around before all of the tourists come in.  My plan is to drive down Friday night and establish camp at the Riley Campground (car camping), explore Saturday and Sunday morning, and then drive back Sunday afternoon.  Responses to Saturday activity included biking, skiing, hiking and just meandering around camp.

I am looking to do a strenuous hike/snowshoe, but the location will depend on weather conditions, access points, etc.  I am hoping that the park road will be open to Igloo Creek so that we can do Cathedral or Igloo Mtn.  If not, we can climb up Primrose Ridge and walk along the ridge line there.  I'll defer to the park rangers for their suggestions when we check in Saturday morning.

http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/shoulder-season.htm

http://www.nps.gov/dena/spring-road-opening.htm

When/Where: I will update once I get responses back to my email this weekend.

Cost: There is an entrance fee of $10.  You can buy an annual pass that is good for 4 adults for $40.  http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm

BRING:

- All camping gear needed for car camping.  Bear resistant food containers, tent, sleeping bag, pad, cookware, light, toiletries etc.

- Hiking equipment - Kahtoolas or other traction footwear, snowshoes, trekking poles, etc. are optional.  Bear spray, GPS, map, first aid kit...please be equipped to be in the backcountry.

- Skis?  Bikes?  Biking on the road past any closures is an option as roads will be plowed but not open to vehicular traffic.  Ski trails are sure to be open.

Dress in non-cotton layers so you can shed or add clothes as temps change.  For that weekend, average high/low is 51/27 and record high/low is 78/8.

- Water, food and fuel (firewood).  None of these will be available yet so please bring plenty.

DOGS: Yes but they are restricted to the park road and campground. http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/pets.htm

Contact: Abe - [masked] (preferred) or[masked]-1279.  I will be updating this post as details develop.

 

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  • A former member
    A former member

    EXCELLENT EVENT START TO FINISH -THANK YOU, ABE!!!!

    May 13, 2013

  • Lilli

    How was the bike trip? This is on my list for later this summer, August or early September

    May 13, 2013

  • Donna

    Never rained on us and both mornings were gloriously sunny. Drive home lent great views of Denali. Thanks for all the fun everyone.

    May 12, 2013

  • Donna

    Im on way
    will be near midnight when i get there

    May 10, 2013

  • Kneely T.

    Abe, I apologize for holding a spot so long. But I think the conditions for climbing will be inferior, and my goal was to climb Sable. Have a great time. Good luck. Kneely

    May 9, 2013

    • Abe

      That's quite alright. We'll miss your company...we'll have to go another time.

      May 10, 2013

  • Kerry

    Hi all. I'll be driving from Eagle River in a Subaru with my dog Annie, a topper, probably skis, and a lot of camera gear. I can take one other person and their gear (except bikes), and another dog (or another person who doesn't mind being squeezed in back with Annie.) I'm flexible, can leave anytime and return anytime. I expect to mostly do photography along the road, and if I ski it'll probably be outside the park so Annie can run with me (perhaps along the denali highway - it should be well packed).

    It'd be great to have someone riding up with me, if interested give me a jingle at[masked]

    May 7, 2013

    • Mark

      A great hike to do with Annie would be Mt. Healy from the Bison Gulch parking lot just north of glitter gulch. The ridge is usually one of the first areas free of snow and makes a great trek. Bison Gulch is on the maps and the trail or route is straightforward. A bit steep at first then a ridge walk. Champ and I did it many times when we lived in DNP.

      May 9, 2013

  • Karlene

    Sorry, won't be able to make it.

    May 8, 2013

  • amanda a.

    I would love to carpool, however I will not be off of work until 5 on Friday. Would leaving friday around 530 still be do-able to meet with all of you peeps?

    May 7, 2013

    • Abe

      Amanda, can you please email me your phone number? I am planning to email out the carpools tomorrow with contact numbers.

      May 7, 2013

  • Jerry A

    Abe, Send me an email if you want to use my bike rack.

    May 7, 2013

  • Kneely T.

    Abe, I am not understanding your e-mail. I plan to drive from Anchorage to Riley Creek Friday evening. Will carpool I think with Collin, or perhaps others. I am guessing that the snow will have melted off the road by Saturday morning, when I plan to drive to Teklenika and then start bicycling. I will check with the Park people on Thursday or early Friday, and learn more. I expect that I will bring skis, but am more interested in biking Park road, and climbing/hiking up high somewhere. Preferably Sable Mt. I skied to the headwaters of the Savage River two weeks ago, and would be very surprised if there is any skiable snow left by Saturday, May 11.

    May 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just home from a great 4 day weekend in the park. Snow was deep in Riley Creek campground. Road opened Sunday afternoon to Teklanika view rest stop though not to the bridge. Temps were mild and sun was plentiful - skiing in a t-shirt. Encountered large areas of rotten snow bear entrance are a farther out - snowshoeing was still fun. Skiing was wonderful heading South off the road 4 miles past Savage bridge although this may be a muddy hike by next weekend. Only the Bear loop was open for camping with about 10 spots plowed out. Plowed spots were busy. Looked like they were getting started on plowing the Caribou loop. Campfire wood was not easy to find due to deep snow.

    Hope you all have a glorious time!

    May 7, 2013

  • Kneely T.

    I am hoping to drive in a car to Teklenika on Saturday morning, and then bike to the west end of Igloo Canyon [about 12-15 miles] which is slightly uphill the whole way, and then stash the bike, and climb Sable Mtn. which is a long ridge walk, going up. I think 2-3 thousand vertical feet total. I did this in 1980. Then back to the bicycles and then ride, coasting all the way, to Teklenika, and then drive back to Riley Creek. Should be a long day. Sunday sleep late and eat a big breakfast at a restaurant and drive to Anchorage. I am hoping to have one or more people join me. If interested, please let me know. If some of you are doing a different mountain, please let me know. I could be talked into Cathedral. If don't hear back I probably won't make the long drive.

    May 4, 2013

    • Cynthia S

      Abe - I just sent you a bunch of emails. I can leave Friday afternoon too. Would love to have someone take my bike (but can bring it and one other as well).

      May 6, 2013

    • Abe

      Kneely, you're the only one so far that is leaving Saturday morning. Can we convince you to go Friday afternoon? I'd like for you to join us without having to drive by yourself.

      May 7, 2013

  • Abe

    So I've heard from Dennis, Kneely, Cynthia, Keith and Marianne about carpooling. For those that have not emailed me yet, please email me today if you want to carpool, otherwise I will not arrange transportation for you.

    May 7, 2013

  • Jerry A

    Abe,
    I did this trip about 5 years ago and was a great time. The one thing that I remember the most was how much colder it was up there . After reading Valerie's last post I have had enough snow and cold for this year. I have found a warmer activity. So I am out for this one. I will volunteer my bike rack it anyone needs it. Have fun and take lots of warm stuff.

    May 6, 2013

    • Abe

      Thanks for letting me know. I may take you up on your bike rack. Do you check the email that is attached to your Meetup account?

      May 6, 2013

  • Valerie D.

    Just got an email from a friend working in the Park and living just outside of it, and there is at least 4 feet of snow on the ground still, so be prepared for winter camping! He says it's been record snow and cold temperatures for the Park.

    May 5, 2013

  • Karlene

    I can drive with 1 or 2 others. Subaru Outback w/ski rack. I have a strap-on bike rack that can take another bike. I'll bring mtn bike w/hybrid tires, metal edge skis, snowshoes and katoolas. I can bring aged fiewood. Foods?

    May 4, 2013

  • maureen

    Sorry, Abe, realized I'm double booked....thought the other event was the 18th but it's not.

    May 4, 2013

  • Valerie D.

    Will depend on whether my dog is still on the planet, so I am tentative.

    April 23, 2013

    • Valerie D.

      Sasha is still alive and can't be left for more than a couple of hours, so won't be making it. Looks like the forecast is for cold and snow!

      May 4, 2013

  • Valerie D.

    Dog is still alive, and can't leave her in car for more than a couple of hours. Thanks anyway!

    May 4, 2013

  • ShaneD

    I'm going to go for Kyong's warm cabin instead. Have fun !!

    May 3, 2013

  • Kyong W

    Went to Skiing and Camping in Denali 4 days, it was nice and quiet!!

    April 23, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Don't you ever work, Kyong??? (My envy is showing.)

      April 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Jerry - I'd like to bring my mountain bike, as well. Also want to ask others about car pool options. I drive a Jeep Cherokee Sport - so could carry one other person with gear (tent, etc.), but would have to strap the bike on the roof...

    April 24, 2013

    • JuliaB

      Keith, I have a bike rack you can borrow, much easier than trapping to the roof.

      April 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks much, Julia - I'll keep that option in mind...You gonna go???

      April 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I would love to do this! It seems like an amazing low-key adventure for a guy who's outdoorsy but with limited Alaskan experience. I would have to leave a little later though, after work. I don't have a lot of specialty equipment but do have kahtoolas, appropriate clothes, first aid, basic camp gear, etc. and can buy some bear spray. Would this be an appropriate trip for me to join you guys or do you think I'd need to spend a lot on equipment? I know that's kinda vague but I'd appreciate any input. Thanks.

    April 23, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Abe. I wasn't trying to imply anyone would be responsible for me or incur legal jargon CYA. I was just hoping for insight as to whether this was an event that was moderate enough for me to cut my teeth on with the group. But if it's simply a free for all with no direction or cohesion, I guess I'll just skip it however. Thanks for your time and enjoy.

      April 24, 2013

    • Greg P.

      Shaun, since you are new to Alaska it's hard to know what you consider to be moderate. Denali National Park is located in the Alaska Interior, so it's subject to a different climate regime with greater temperature swings than we experience here in Southcentral Alaska. Experienced members will be prepared for this range of conditions. Car camping trips of this sort tend to be open-ended, with the option for subgroups to pursue different activities. For a better-defined intro to our group, I suggest trying a few of our local day hikes. You've been a member now for 4 months, so what's holding you back? :-)

      April 25, 2013

  • Jerry A

    I'm planning on taking my mt. bike. Is anyone else taking bikes? I have a 4 bike bike rack.

    April 23, 2013

  • Larry

    What exactly is car camping? Sleeping in a car?

    April 23, 2013

    • Mireya de la P.

      Haha! Yes, beer :). And smores! Julie, aren't you going?

      April 23, 2013

    • Julie

      Considered it but I need lots of saddle time as it is the weekend before Clean Air Challenge.

      April 23, 2013

  • Julie

    Heard today that the road is currently open 30 miles into the park.

    April 23, 2013

    • Abe

      This is correct! I'm excited. Thanks for the reply to Larry too.

      April 23, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    oopsie...that was my weekend to work. I thought I had it off...can't go ):

    April 23, 2013

  • Mireya de la P.

    Great idea and the perfect weekend for me! I'm game for any of the listed activities and have all the gear needed. Denali in the off season is usually ideal.

    April 23, 2013

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