Glacial River bedThe river basins of Denali are part of arich ecosystem that is home to somenotable large mammals. Grizzly bearsmake use of the larger rivers like StonyRiver and the Nenana to catch trout;and large moose, caribou, Dall sheepand wolves all use the rivers for water.Other wildlife found near the riversincludes wolverines, red foxes, blackbears, marmots, snowshoehares, peregrine falcons, trumpeterswans, golden eagles and harlequinducks.
Grizzly going byWildlife in Denali is acclimated tovehicle traffic. They see the tour busesas part of the natural environment andare not shy about walking directly infront of a bus or car. This young grizzlypassed by very close to the truck andwe were able to get a close up shot.Grizzly Bears are one of the biggestland mammals in North America. Itwas estimated in the 1800s that asmany as 50,000 grizzly bears rangedbetween the Great Plains and thePacific Ocean in the lower 48 states.Today the grizzly bear is found in about2 % of its previous range in the lower48 states where around 1,300 grizzlybears remain in the wild. Alaskahowever has a large population ofgrizzlies numbering over 30,000animals.
Denali’s past:original KantishnaRoadhouseIn the late 1800s Fannie Quigley andher husband Joe opened theroadhouse to gold prospectors as ahotel/eatery/mail stop and generalcommunication center for the minersin that area. Joe suffered an injurythat took him to Seattle for treatment.While there he fell in love with thenurse that treated him and neverreturned. Fannie ended up stayingand running the roadhouse for the restof her days. She was famous for herrhubarb pie, home brewed beer andcould shoot, skin, and prep a mooseon her own.
Moose in AlaskaAlaska moose mate every year duringautumn and winter, and usuallyproduce one or two offspring at atime. At around 10-11months, yearling Alaska Moose leavetheir mothers and fend for themselves.The Alaska Moose ranges throughoutAlaska to most of the westernYukon, Canada. Due to its largerange, humans frequently come intocontact with the moose. Mothers arevery protective of their young calves.Most of the time moose do notconfront people unless they areprovoked or feel their young arethreatened. If you notice its hairsraised, head down and ears back-andit’s licking its lips- that’s a cue to maketracks in the opposite direction.Most injuries from moose occurbecause of vehicle collisions.
Notice the worried look on the sled dog’s face
Official summer gearin AlaskaThough most of us might worry aboutencounters with large animals likeBear, or Moose, the peskiest critter inAlaska has to be the mosquito. Insummer months the Alaskas mosquitopopulation is the stuff of legend. Thereare 35 species of mosquito in Alaska.All but a few of these will feed onhumans. Mosquitoes are by far themost prevalent bugs, which is whythey remain lord of the flies. Everyyear, they congregate in hordes thatare thickest from the Yukon Rivernorth to the Arctic Ocean and tormentthe Caribou and humans relentlessly.If you want to enjoy the outdoors youneed to prepare with netting and bugspray.
For further reading: Recommendations from an Alaskan• Searching for Fannie Quiqley by Jane G. Haigh• In the Company of Moose by Victor Van Ballenberghe• Two Old Women by Velma Wallis• Discovering Denali: A Complete Reference Guide to Denali National Park and Mount McKinley by Dow Scoggins