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Best places to find wolves in Denali

Miami, Florida
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Best places to find wolves in Denali

We're spending 3 days camping at Tek in Denali in early July. We're going hiking during that time and would love to see some wolves. Where are the best places to see them? I know that wildlife is unpredictable, but I'm hoping that people who have done a fair share of hiking in Denali might know of some spots.

USA
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1. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

There is an active den right past Tolklat rest stop. Across the road from the Tolklat rest stop there are closure signs at the entrance to a creek that comes down into the west branch of the Tolklat River. You can see the creek & the closure signs from the bridge by the rest stop. There are closure signs on the west end of the creek up Highway Pass too. Of course, stay out of all closures.

At the Tolklat rest stop ranger tent there is a bookstore & a ranger counter. Check out the topo map for the marked closure or tell the ranger you want to hike across the road up along the west side of the Tolklat & want to see on the map where the closure is.

Last summer they had to close off the road to walkers because the wolves were walking right next to people quite an experience for me. If the road is open again, you can walk west up the hill past the Tolklat rest stop to look down in the side creek for wolves. The thrill is to see the pups down in the creek bed.

The wolves move from the den out in both directions hunting. I've seen them on both sides of the Tolklat River & running all the way up & back to Stony overlook area, over Highway Pass.

Get on the earliest shuttle possible.

Another place people have seen wolves are by leaving Tek CG in the wee morning hours & driving slowly out to leave on your last day there.

We've seen quite a few lynx around Tek along the road so that makes for another early morning adventure. I take my coffee in a travel mug & walk very early, first light.

Happy hunting!

Minnesota
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2. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

denalicat is right on the money. I was at Tek the middle of June. We saw wolves within ½ mile on both sides of the Toklat rest stop two days in a row. The pair of wolves currently has pups at the den that denalicat referred to.

There are also lots of snowshoe hares on the park road in that vicinity. There may be a connection here!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

I'm curious how long wolf pups stay with their family at the den? If they are this year's litter, will they still be "home" in late Aug/early Sept?

Harrisburg...
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4. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

Most stay a year at least. They need to mature, and yearlings are still learning from their parents how to catch and kill prey. Some leave home, or disperse, between their first and second year. Others stay well into their second year before leaving. Occasionally a wolf will stay with the natal pack for 3 or 4 years or even longer, but this seems to be the exception.

Edited: 24 June 2010, 11:47
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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5. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

Thanks for the biology lesson Iwant2Go . . . I had no idea, but that makes sense :)

I'm hopeful we'll get to see them later this summer!

Harrisburg...
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6. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

Your welcome!

What most people don't realize is that normally all the pups you see are from the alpha couple since they are the breeders. If the alpha female dies, then all the other females will breed to ensure survival of their pack.

We have coyotes here where I live and their packs work the same way. Between the deer hunters and farmers trying to get rid of the coyotes, we have problems. It is a vicious cycle. The hunters want to get rid of them because they kill the fawns but then the rabbits and deer get out of control the next year resulting in a population that destroys the farmers crops and get a few of the calves and sheep. And when they kill the alpha female, voila, we have 4 times as many coyotes. If they would leave them alone, in 2 to 3 years nature would control itself.

It's hard for 4th and 5th generation farmers and hunters to change their ways. Most of them don't want to believe what this "eco yuppie" (as I have been called) tries to explain to them.

Harrisburg...
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7. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

Also, here is a website you might find interesting:

http://www.alaska.net/~wolfsong/wolf_menu.html

fti
MN
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8. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

The biggest element you need is TIME. I can't find the post right now but in the past month or so, someone posted how he hikes up north of the road somewhere past Toklat (i.e. where the wolves have been seen) and sets up his scope. He spends all day just perched in the same spot. He said he has never failed to see several wolves. But if you expect to get off the bus, do a 30 minute hike and get back on the bus, chances are severely reduced.

I have been in the park more than a half dozen times. Have only seen a wolf twice.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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9. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

Thanks for the reminder John. Maybe it would be a good use of our first (partial) day in Denali. I doubt we'll be up for too much that first afternoon/evening (assuming the shuttle schedule works for us . . . I have it at home so I'll need to double check it).

USA
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10. Re: Best places to find wolves in Denali

TimeshareVon wrote: " If they are this year's litter, will they still be "home" in late Aug/early Sept?"

TimeshareVon, what we have found with that den is that the young pups are kept down in the creek bed in the early spring. When they got older in July they were actually moved to the knoll right above the far side of the creek.

Most shuttle bus drivers are very aware of where the pups are anytime of the summer.

If you walk up the road from the Tolklat rest stop there is an overlook on the road where you can watch for the pups down in the stream. It's a good lookout spot to see the mama wolf & the others bringing food back to the den from Highway Pass way or the Tolklat River way.

One clue that the pups are out or there is wolf activity is if you see the professional photographers with their vans & vehicles parked there & them out with their tripods. I had the honor of traveling in a car with a professional photographer the day the wolf walked right next to us up there.

Anytime you see a couple of pros out of their cars, there is probably a good wildlife sighting. That is always a clue for me!

And yes, I spend a lot of time around that area to see wolves. My favorite was backpacking alone out of that unit by the Tolklat in the early morning hours & seeing 2 bears fighting a pack of 3 wolves over a caribou carcass on the bank above me. That was a sighting of a lifetime. It was not only TIME but also LUCK of being in the right place at the right time LOL!

p.s. the bears won!

Edited: 24 June 2010, 18:11