Everybody say, âAwww.â Even the sled-dog puppies are birthday-themed this year as Denali National Park and Preserve marks 100 years since it was established.
Cupcake, Happy, Pinata and Party will greet guests this yearÂ at one of the parkâs most popular activities, the ranger-led sled dog demonstrations. These âbark rangersâ are scampering to join the ranks of Denaliâs 30 adult huskies, the only working sled dogs in the National Park Service.
Of course, the pups only set the stage for the abundant animal life visitors expect to see in Denali.
Alaskan author Sherry Simpson pretty much nailed it when she wrote that the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the park each year do so âhoping for a wildlife encounter that doesnât involve bloodshed.â
That wildlife draws eager visitors to the massive park in south-central Alaska. Most tourists sign up for a bus tour, since Denali doesnât allow private vehicles past Mile 15 of the Denali Park Road, the parkâs only thoroughfare.
In September 2016, my husband and I took one of the 13-hour narrated tours that wound around for 92 miles to Kantishna, the farthest spot you can drive into the park. We piled into a school bus early in the morning and often felt like kids on a field trip as we stopped regularly for snacks and potty breaks along the way.
We saw grizzlies, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, eagles, ptarmigans and what we thought was a wolf from the safe confines of the bus.
Park Superintendent Don Striker says he sometimes feels guilty because the animals people see from the buses are âhabituated, so you donât get…