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"Hiking" the Park Road?

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North Carolina
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"Hiking" the Park Road?

Has anyone ever hiked /walked the Park Road? I'm interested in thoughts / experiences.

I've been to Denali a few times, always doing bus rides / day hikes. Doing the road to Wonder Lake just sounds like an interesting way to see the park.

I know I'd have to dodge bus traffic, and I've seen bears on the road, so I know I'd still have to pay attention to those types of threats.

Any thoughts on pros / cons?

USA
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1. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

I've walked mostly all the park road at one time or another in numerous segments.

The bears will get down in the ravines, so I am very alert; but usually a bus stopped will alert to bears.

A few times I have had bears come upon the road right by me & had to get in with rangers or park workers or onto buses.

Once a mama coyote came after me, nosing me up the side of the road in Igloo canyon early morning. The first tour bus had to drive at it to get it away from me.

Twice a wolf walked right by me; I could have reached out & petted it. But I was just by its trail down to the den near Toklat.

But these stories were after many, many. many years of walking the road.

It's a wonderful, easy way to hike the park. Walking thru Sable closure area is divine. You just have to stay right on the road thru closures.

Polychrome Mt. area & west of grassy pass along the kettle ponds to Wonder Lake are 2 of my favorite road walks. When the mountain & Ak range is out the latter is incredible.

No dodging traffic problems really. That's not an issue at all, except when it has been very dry & the dust gets bad.

Some years there are closures, no walking along the road for a short distance near the area where the wolf dens are. Then you have to wait for a shuttle bus ride through or hike up the hill around the road closure.

Anyway, you can stop & wave down a green shuttle bus anytime!

Edited: 11 March 2013, 00:06
North Carolina
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2. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

Denali Cat - Thanks for the detailed reply.

I have to ask - what would you have done if you had an wildlife encounter and no bus / ranger was around? That's the scenario that freaks me out the most. It sounds like you've been very lucky. Your wolf story is amazing.

So it sounds you'd say this is a decent way to experience the park. I'd be hiking alone. I don't want to be bushwhacking. The road gives me some comfort, and I love the bus availability.

Edited: 11 March 2013, 00:10
USA
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3. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

It's a wonderful way to see the park. I don't mean to scare with my stories LOL.

My stories are over 12 years of summers, as a teacher with summers off, spend weeks on end in the park.

I have had close bear encounters hiking too- most Alaskan hikers have- just follow bear safety rules. Read the bear safety rules on the Denali NP website & never run.

On the road you will be able to see gullies & move to the other side of the road.

Another great option for hiking is to hike up the designated trail across from Eielson visitor center that goes up onto Thoro ridge. There are usually always other hikers to join & the view from the top is magnificent.

Healy, Alaska
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4. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

I also thinking walking or biking the park road is a great way to see the park. While you need to be cautious/aware anywhere in Alaska, most animals you encounter in the park will move away from you - they really don't want human encounters but you always need to be aware of surprising them. Enjoy this experience! :)

USA
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5. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

Yes, coalminer reminded me..... SING as you walk! That will alert everyone!

Madison, AL
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6. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

Yes, singing Jimmy Buffett in Denali is my personal fav.

Healy, Alaska
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7. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

Ha! My most favorite song recommendation came from a great park interp who has written a few books on Denali - he was a known rock & roll lover but would always recommend the country song - "Stand by your Man" when he was doing the "bear" talk. I think I would do better with Jimmy Buffett too! :)

North Carolina
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8. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

Thanks all for the helpful responses; I appreciate it! I'll start planning!

New England
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9. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

We really enjoyed walking the road along the Sable closure and from Polychrome towards the park entrance. Beautiful, peaceful, lovely photo ops and easy to hop a bus when we were ready. When we ran out of songs to sing we made sure that any bears in the area would have our phone number and email addresses!

10. Re: "Hiking" the Park Road?

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