I admit we are one of those strange families that anxiously awaits the first winter snows. Ask me again in February, and we’ll be ready for a break, but right now; bring on the flakes!
“Termination dust” has been slowly progressing down the mountains that ring the Mat-Su, but hasn’t yet hit the valley floor. The weather forecast for Denali National Park last Saturday was snow and with fall colors in full explosion, we decided to go.
Five thirty came early and it was pounding rain. Bridger had commitments with friends, so Jeff, Summer, Saige and I loaded up the truck, grabbed road snacks and caffeine, then set off into the storm.
Traffic was light, and with the girls asleep, I thoroughly enjoyed the peace as we wound our way up the Parks Highway through forests and Alaskan tundra.
The storm was socked in and low with the skies a dark gray. I was afraid we wound’t be able to get out and enjoy the sights without getting drenched combined with a degree of hypothermia.
I anxiously watched the thermometer gauge in the truck. We started at 42 degrees, then 40, then 38. The rain began to turn to sleet. Finally at 36 degrees well up into the tundra, we were in a full snow storm.
Colors collided as fall battled winter to hold on for just a few more days.
Denali in September: Part I
As we hit the park, the weather finally broke a bit on the way to Savage River, where personal cars hit the limit. I’d looked online and roads deeper into the park were even closed not far beyond this to the “cattle buses” due to the early white blankets of snow.
We geared up and headed down the trail.
Summer and Saige were in soggy white heaven and engaged with Jeff in a snowball fight. I scanned the slopes for any signs of life.
This wasn’t a trip filled with animal sightings like our first trip in May. In fact we only saw one drenched moose on the way up. That didn’t dampen the fun.
Once everyone was thoroughly cold, we hiked out, hopped back in the truck and headed down.
The sun was trying to shine through, and warm the ground just enough to send the snow packing as we descended towards the visitor’s center.
Vistas were now visible that showed off the beauty of Denali in September.
At the visitor’s center, we warmed up while watching the park movie. Afterwards, walked the wooded paths in the forest lined with trees in full fall splendor.
I changed camera lenses to a macro at one point and found when I was pulling pictures, that there were too many I wanted to share. So Denali in September Part II has images of the small treasures we found in the woods.
Our time in the park had been rewarding and I wish we could have stayed the night. But the dogs needed tending and Bridger needed supervising, so after a long day we headed home.
The drive down was much less stormy, and even the high mountains shown occasionally through the clouds.
It was a long drive to do in a day. But my theory is, if you want to see the epic fall colors of Alaska in a full progression from early fall to early winter in just one trip, you might as well go big and drive to Denali in September.2