Fall Folliage and Fun in Denali National Park

I love camping.  This trip to Denali National Park we were just car camping in Savage River.  I love camping in Savage River Campground in the fall because of all the beautiful fall foliage and the rutting moose!  We also were able to bring our pups to the park!  They are still undecided as to whether they really like camping or not.

2015-09-05 19.47.14          2015-09-07 11.48.35

You can also see Denali (YES officially DENALI) from the campground!  The mountain does not look as impressive from Savage River Campground than from Wonder Lake Campground, but it is still exciting to wake up to that majestic white mountain!  The first few nights and days were rainy and the mountain was not out, but the Sunday morning we awoke and could see her!

Nali in front of Denali_Watermark

We took three bus rides into the park.  The first two were pretty muddy and we (meaning Josh) had to squeegee the windows at some of the rest stops.

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We had lots of great bears come close to the bus, especially on Sunday afternoon!  We got to see one sow with two spring cubs two days in a row.  This family pair came no where close to the road, but close enough to enjoy watching the cubs run around the hillside.  One bear rolled over on the side of the road.  I love getting to see bears interact naturally in their environment.  They are such amazing critters!

Grizzly Bear 1 Watermark          Grizzly Bear 4 Watermark

One of the main reasons why we come to Denali in September is for the hopeful possibility to see Moose rutting.  I got to see it last year but did not have great photo success due to darkness and parking brake lights!  I got to see many moose this year, none of them rutting per say but I did get some nice photos of two bull moose in close proximity to me and each other!


This encounter was probably my favorite.  Many photographers come from all over to capture Alaska’s beauty.  I see so many when I go to places like Katmai and Denali.  They all line up in sight of bull moose for rutting.  During one of these stops Josh and I went passed the blockage of 30 photographers because the moose the photographers were watching were 10 miles away.  While we were going past them we caught a glimpse of a cow and calf moose right off the side of the road (on the opposite side of all the photographers).  The photographers were locked in on that far bull while this beautiful cow and calf ran right behind them.  Josh and I followed in our car and stopped at a river crossing to get to watch them cross.  You miss a lot when you are honed in on one photo-tunity!  Josh and I would travel up and down the road to see what all was out there.  In Denali National Park there is a lot to photograph!

Moose 13 Watermark

I also got a photo of my favorite Denali National Park animal, the Dall Sheep!  These rams were on the mountain hillside below us, which is a nice treat!  Usually we see sheep dots in Fall, or at best sheep dots with legs!  🙂

Dall Sheep 3 Watermark

Other animals we had the opportunity to see were: Great Horned Owl (my first one in the park!), arctic ground squirrels, ptarmigans, caribou, Gray Jays, and un-identified bird (Does anyone who what it is?).  Of course other animals were seen but these were the better of the photographed animals for this trip of Denali!

Gray Jay 1 Watermark          Great Horned Owl 1 Watermark Unidentified Bird 1 Watermark

On Saturday night, just as I was about to hit the tent up for some much needed sleep, I caught a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis!  So many people travel to Alaska to see the Aurora.  It was not an intense Aurora but an Aurora nonetheless.  Josh and the pups decided to stay and enjoy the fire.  I went out and took some photos of the foot hill mountains and the Aurora.  I then got mesmerized by the milky way!  When you are that far out from real civilization you can make out so much detail in the Milky Way.  It was truly an incredible sight!  I took many photos of the milky way.


Sunday night the Aurora came out with more force and I was able to catch a corona!  I was actually sleeping in my camping chair next to the blazing fire and randomly woke up to the Aurora about to spike.  Perfect timing!

Aurora Borealis Denali National ParkSeptember 7 2015 Watermark

On a non-photography note we had a blast camping the four nights.  We had a new campsite we hadn’t used before and we really loved it!  Josh made some great food by the fire!  One night he even made steak!  Now we didn’t really have plates or utensils but I guess our hands work fine!  Ha!  I have never eaten steak with just my hands.  We enjoyed Lynx Creek Pizza.  It is always our go to pizza in the park, specifically the chicken bacon ranch pizza.  We had bagel sandwiches for lunch each day along with cheese, summer sausage, crackers, and cookies.  It is always funny to see what other people choose to bring and eat on the bus.  This time I saw someone with a McDonalds Big Mac.  I don’t know where they got a Big Mac from?  The nearest one is in Fairbanks I believe?  That’s a well traveled McDonalds lunch!  I saw someone with squash soup.  It looked not-so tempting.

2015-09-06 08.02.51 HDR          2015-09-04 21.56.41

On our bus rides we had three different drivers.  Our first is one of our absolute favorites Mr. Elton Parks!  We know him from Fairbanks.  He is funny and pretty good at spotting some wildlife.  The second driver we had was Erland.  He was a little less funny, but a nice guy.  Jeremy was our third bus driver.  He was very nice and had some great stories. He is just a cool Alaskan guy!  He had some great timing with animals.  We saw so many bears on his bus!  We saw Elton throughout our trip and he even gave us lollipops on Saturday!  We thought we were pretty cool!  Thanks Elton!

2015-09-05 11.46.02 HDR

Overall we had some amazing photo-tunities, a great time camping, and enjoyed just about every minute of the trip.  Like always, I can’t wait to head back to the park and see more!  Stay tuned: another trip is coming soon!

Family 1 Watermark         Scenery 1 Watermark

One Comment Add yours

  1. polarbroncofan says:

    Hey Laura! Hope you and Josh are doing well. I’ve been watching for you on the 930 Eielson and it’d be great to see you guys again. Have a great summer!


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