Quick Denali Trip


Dec 11, 2015
After all plans for a weekend on the Denali Highway with friends fell through, my friend Josh and I decided on a trip to Denali NP for couple nights. We left Friday evening and a couple hours later we rolled into the park. At this point in
the year, private vehicles can drive in as far as Mile 31 next to the Teklanika River. On Friday evening, we drove almost all the way in, looked for grizzlies along the Teklanika and Sanctuary Rivers, then turned around and camped at Riley Creek CG near the Park entrance.

We saw the usual assortment of wildlife on the drive in and out, including this willow ptarmigan and a ton of snowshoe hares.

We also saw a bull moose and a short time later, this cow moose and her yearling.

The late light provided a great view of the west flanks of Mt. Healy and the parking area near Savage River.

Josh isn't used to us camping in a campground. I fell asleep listening to a great horned owl nearby.

The wildlife sightings continue to mount as this pine squirrel gorges on spruce cones.


After breakfast, we hit the back country office and pick up a permit for a night in the park. After a short drive, we head out. Within minutes, we are among the wild creatures of the park.upload_2017-5-21_22-58-43.png

These caribou meet up with a few others and hardly seem bothered as we pass.


The day looks promising as we start up to Primrose Ridge.

We reach our campsite, drop the packs and head up to Primrose Ridge. As we climb, we run into this rock ptarmigan.

As the day progresses, storms roll across the valley south of us.



We avoided the storms for most of the afternoon. Between storms, we were treated to great views of the Alaska Range, including this view of Double Mountain.

The great expanse of Double Mountain with the Sanctuary River running before it.

Josh works his way along the outcrops.

Eventually we reach some benches and stop for a quick break.

The flatter terrain as we near the top of Primrose Ridge.


The view to the southwest across the Sanctuary River and to the Teklanika River.

The view to the southeast. A section of the park road is visible.

Three caribou look down on us.

One of the tors near the crest of the ridge.

Once the storm from the north started hitting us, we headed down. Along the way, we ran into this rock ptarmigan.

Just above our campsite, this willow ptarmigan was chattering away.

Some remnant hail from the storm.

The sunset shining up the Sanctuary valley.

Moderate winds hit us most of the night and into the morning. It kept the mosquitoes at bay and dried out some of the gear.

It is hard to see but there's a trace of new snow near the ridge top.

We packed up and headed down. We found this moose antler along the way down.

A view up toward our campsite, which had been on the bench to the far right.
Although Denali Park's low country is pretty low (~3000 feet), winter was just leaving.

Some moose damage.

We reached the van, threw our gear in, talked to some tourists from India and started the drive out.

After crossing over Savage River, we spotted this youngster poking along the river.

She eventually headed toward the road.

We eventually came upon this willow ptarmigan playing chicken.

Soon after leaving the ptarmigan, this girl showed up.

She walked onto the road and stood between us and a tourist bus for 5-10 minutes before walking off into the willows.

After we left the park and headed north, we drove back into the spring season. It was a dramatic contrast with all the greenery compared to the late winter in the park.
Last edited:
Very cool trip. Alaska is so vast! Too bad about that climate, but I guess that's what keeps most at bay. Thanks for sharing.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Jackson Quick day hike in the Montana Absarokas Hiking & Camping 13
regehr quick Jarbidge backpack Trip Reports 5
regehr quick Medicine Bow / Laramie-area hike? Trip Planning 0
TeamJenkins17 Quick 4 day Winds trip Trip Planning 32
balzaccom Quick trip in the Stanislaus without snow Backpacking 3
C Quick Trip to Golden Cathedral Hiking & Camping 7
Ugly Oh Catherine, A Quick Night, Beautiful Dawn Backpacking 2
F Quick Lake Blanche (Utah) camping Q? Trip Planning 9
Outdoors24 A quick trip in the Manti-La Sal National Forest Off Road 1
wabenho Quick June Trip to Packard Lake Backpacking 6
P Quick Yellowstone overnight, Rescue Creek Backpacking 21
OCArch Zion Blitz- A Quick 3 days Oct 11-14 Backpacking 6
Stephanie Quick trip to Coyote Gulch via Red Well Trip Planning 4
Perry Quick Road Trip Through Kanab - Any Must-see Locations? General Discussion 5
Bob Wire Quick snowshoe trip General Discussion 4
Uncle_Dim Wasatch Front Quick Trip Advice Needed Trip Planning 8
WasatchWill A quick overnighter down to Cedar Mesa Backpacking 11
Papa Dave Greetings! And one quick question Noobs: Introduce yourself! 1
Howells Outdoors Quick Trip to Lake Blanche Backpacking 2
steve What's in my pack: my ultralight setup for a quick overnighter. Gear 8
Sarah Quick Overnight Advice? Trip Planning 3
jdgibney Quick Southwest trip Jan 14-18 - Looking for suggestions Trip Planning 3
SPAC3MAN Hiking With Diabetes: A Few Quick Tips General Discussion 2
isleroyaleguy Wind's trip coming up quick Trip Planning 5
jdgibney Dinosaur National Monument: Worth a quick visit? Trip Planning 3
barl0w Quick Survey For Startup Contest (Outdoor App) General Discussion 2
Nick Need 4-day backpacking ideas and quick Trip Planning 22
IntrepidXJ Quick Cathedral Valley Trip Hiking & Camping 1
Udink Quick December Overnighter Hiking & Camping 3
Archbishop Quick paddle on Cagles Mill Lake IN. On The Water 3
Backcountry Post Quick Start Guide To Using Backcountry Post Questions, Suggestions & Support 2
kwc Album Denali Highway July 2023 Photography 3
kwc Savage River, Denali NP Hiking & Camping 1
TheMountainRabbit Upper Toklat River (Denali NP) - August 2018 Backpacking 7
Outdoor_Fool October Denali Hike Hiking & Camping 21
Outdoor_Fool Denali NPP Moose Rut Hiking & Camping 6
C denali backpacking ideas Trip Planning 3
C denali backpacking Trip Planning 5
C denali Hiking & Camping 6
C hiking suggestions for Denali Trip Planning 6
kwc Alaska (again) Denali NP Hiking & Camping 7
C Denali day hike question Trip Planning 10
Rockskipper Has anyone driven the Denali road to Wonder Lake in their own vehicle? General Discussion 11
Ben Denali NP, Teklanika and Sanctuary Rivers Backpacking 49
Nick Denali General Discussion 9
Q Alaska Denali park hiking Trip Planning 2
Ben Denali NP, Savage and Sanctuary Rivers Backpacking 10
Tres Westbrook Denali Fall Colors Everything Else 11
Curt Mt Healy Overlook Trail, Denali NP Backpacking 15
M Yellowstone Mirror Plateau Trip Plan/Advice Trip Planning 6

Similar threads