Driving to Denali – A Moose Day in Alaska

Today was largely a driving day – it’s about 235 miles from our hotel in Anchorage to our B&B in Healy. But it turned out to be much more, with three extremely good moose encounters.

We were in no huge hurry to leave the Springhill Suites Anchorage University Lake – although it’s far from downtown and a car is required, it’s a lovely, peaceful place that offers excellent value. More and more, we become fans of the Marriott brands, and this is a good example of why.

Springhill Suites Anchorage University Lake
The lake and walking trails behind the hotel are very popular with dog owners – that was a bonus for all of us in the group.

Springhill Suites Anchorage University Lake
We didn’t see any moose in the parking lot, but have no reason to think that the warning isn’t justified given the location.

Springhill Suites Anchorage University Lake
We were on the road just before 10:00, and our first stop was at the Iditarod Center in Wasilla. A husky puppy cuddle is a fine way to start a day off 🙂 This particular puppy was everyone’s favourite.

Iditarod Center in Wasilla
Even Nanook was up for a cuddle 🙂

Iditarod Center in Wasilla
This life-size bronze of famous sled dog Balto sits in front of the main building.

Iditarod Center in Wasilla
The next stop was Talkeetna, a colourful community that’s well worth the 15-minute detour off the Parks Highway. We had an excellent and reasonably-priced lunch at the West Rib Cafe & Pub, which is loaded with mushing and Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley) climbing memorabilia.

West Rib Cafe & Pub, Talkeetna
Nagley’s store was badly damaged by fire a few years ago but was rescued and remains a significant part of the downtown streetscape.

Nagley's store, Talkeetna
Cool – I didn’t know that Checker made limousines!

Checker limousine, Talkeetna Alaska
I was very disappointed to see that the visitor center at the Alaska Veterans Memorial isn’t going to be open this year. Among other reasons, I was really looking forward to that cup of coffee.

Alaska Veterans Memorial
A scenic stop was made at the summit of Broad Pass, elevation 2,409 feet.

Broad Pass, Alaska
Just north of Cantwell we got our first moose encounter, with this cow and a young bull together right next to the highway.

Moose along the Parks Highway, Alaska
A mile further along, this moose was trotting through the grass alongside the highway, then crossed the road behind us.

Moose on the Parks Highway, Alaska
Months ago, we had made reservations to take the Eielson shuttle bus into the park, and we picked up our tickets on the way by, to save time in the morning. This is the ticket counter for the buses at the WAC, the Wilderness Access Center.

Wilderness Access Center, Denali National Park
We arrived at the Denali Lakeview Inn just before 7:00pm, and were all very pleased with our rooms.

Denali Lakeview Inn, Alaska
Nanook was pleased with the place, too!

Denali Lakeview Inn, Alaska
The 6 of us had a wonderful evening on our patios, enjoying far more wine than we had intended 🙂 Just before 10:00, someone in the suite above called down to us that there was a moose swimming across the lake right in front of the inn, hidden from us by trees at that point. We ran down to the lake shore to see this.

Moose cow with twin calves in Otto Lake, Alaska
This is one of those special moments that truly is a gift – you can’t plan this.

Moose cow with twin calves in Otto Lake, Alaska
Evening light over Otto Lake at 10:30pm.

Otto Lake, Alaska at 10:30pm
It took me a while to figure out that it was power poles being lit up behind the trees that made this effect!

Bizarre evening light effect

We should have all been in bed early to get ready for our big day in Denali National Park, but it didn’t quite turn out that way! But, “there’s no such thing as too much fun”.


Driving to Denali – A Moose Day in Alaska — 4 Comments

  1. The mother moose and her twins was my “ah ha” moment of the whole trip!!!! Thanks Murray.