Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teklanika Campground

Tuesday we made our way to Teklanika Campground.  A little explanation about the campground is in order.

Denali has only one road and unlike many National Parks, that road doesn’t go all the way through the park.  Also, unlike many National Parks, private vehicles are not allowed past the first 15 miles of the road.

At Denali, visitors can drive back and forth along the first 15 miles of the 95-mile road as often as they want.  The only way past mile 15 is on a sightseeing bus.  The buses leave from the Wilderness Access Center and go all the way to the end of the road.

There are four campgrounds past the 15 mile mark--Teklanika is the only one which allows RVs and private vehicles.  The others are tent only campgrounds and there are no cars allowed.  Teklanika is at mile 29.  There are lots of restrictions on what can be here.  We could bring our RV, but not the car.  If you’re towing a 5th wheel or travel trailer, of course, you would have your vehicle.  There are also tent campers here who have come in their vehicles.  Once we select a site in the campground, we cannot move the RV until we are ready to leave.  The only way we can move about the park is either on foot, bicycle, or sightseeing bus.

Along with the campground reservations we got a bus pass.  This pass is good for any bus, any time of the day, as often as we want for the length of our stay at Teklanika.  However, we cannot use the bus pass to go back toward the park entrance.  We have to stay beyond mile 29.

It’s pretty restrictive, but it’s what we wanted.  I’m sure it’s not a place everyone would want to be.

I suspect most of the people here have plans similar to ours--ride the bus as often as possible.  The grizzles, wolves, moose, Dall sheep, and caribou are out here in the park.  We’re all hoping to see all five.  The way to do that for us, since we’re not going to be hiking with the grizzles, is to ride the bus.

We got here about noon and picked out a campsite.  Even though we have a reservation, sites are not assigned.  Just pick out a site and put your check-in slip on the post.  Most sites are large enough for our rig, so that wasn’t a problem.  There are a few class A motor homes and a big Montana 5th wheel.  I can imagine those guys might have had a problem getting a site long enough and wide enough for their slides.  Our site is long enough, but not too long and it is very wide.  Of course, like most national park campgrounds, we are almost surrounded by trees--white spruce mostly.

So we got set up and went out for a short walk about.  The campground has two loops with the Teklanika River running long the back border.  We walked around both loops and out by the river.

We spent some time this afternoon going through all the handouts and brochures we picked up at the Wilderness Access Center.  We don’t want to go around without a plan at all.  We need to make every day count while we’re here.

This evening we went to the Ranger Program at the amphitheater.  Tonight’s program was about ecosystems and we were surprised to learn that some of the birds which nest in Denali during the summer, migrate to Australia and Africa during the winter.  The arctic tern flies from here to Antarctica for the winter.  It was a good program and I got to play lichen in the little skit.  Gene was fungus.  I could probably make up a sentence with the words old and moldy, but I won’t.

Since I’m posting this several days later, I have the luxury of being able to comment on the other Ranger Programs we attended.  We went to four during the time we were here.  All were very good.

So that was our first day at Teklanika. Oh, the campground fee is $16 per night with a $5 reservation fee.  No hook-ups, of course.  There is also the bus pass which was $31. If you don’t plan to ride the bus at all then no pass is necessary. There is also the park entrance fee which is $10 per person or $20 a car.  We didn’t have to pay the park entrance fee because we have the National Park Annual Pass.

GAS REPORT:  Gene filled up the motor home this morning at McKinley RV and Campground.  They have a big sign out front which lists regular gasoline for $4.41.  There aren’t many choices for fuel around so he wanted to fill up so we’d have plenty of gas for the generator these next 10 days.  When he pulled up to the pumps, he discovered that there was no regular gasoline.  They weren’t sold out; they didn’t offer it at all.  So what gives with the sign.  He had to pay $4.51 for plus.  Their diesel was $4.67.  The other gas station didn’t even have it’s prices posted.

CRITTER COUNT:  Inside Denali Park--1 snowshoe hare and 1 caribou.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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