approaching the Toklat (TOW-klat) River rest area and ranger
station, which also includes some exhibits and a bookstore in a Quonset
hut-type building. There are a bunch of restrooms at the other end of the large parking
Most tour and shuttle buses stop here outbound and/or inbound to give
passengers a break for about 10-20 minutes.
As noted in the quote at the beginning of this entry, one of the
interpretive panels at this rest stop encourages people to
explore the riverbed and surrounding terrain in search of
wildlife and different views.
Jim and I didn't want to stay here today for any length of time
so while we waited to re-board our bus and continue westward we
browsed in the bookstore briefly, wandered down to the river,
and took pictures of the surrounding area:
After about 15 minutes our bus continued west toward the Eielson
Visitor Center. To everyone's delight, we'd have some excitement along the way
. . .
Not only did we get some of the best views of Denali today that have ever been
seen by visitors, we also saw enough critters to feel like we more
than got our money’s worth. Jim carried binoculars so we could see
the wildlife better than with just our 60+ year old eyes.
We saw several lone grizzlies this morning, probably all males unless some
cubs were not visible in the willows.
Two were on the other side of the bus going outbound. Jim was
closer to our neighbors' window so he got pictures of those
bears. One is shown on the previous page.
This is the other one, which we saw soon after leaving Toklat:
Iconic Denali tour bus scene: a long camera
lens pointed out the bus window
The closest bear we saw today was about 200 feet away at the nearest point to
our bus. That one was on my side so it was much easier for me to photograph.
farther down the road our driver knew one of Denali's "Big Five"
critters was nearby when she saw these four tour buses stopped
along the road ahead of us:
We soon saw that it was a blond-colored grizzly bear, just a
little white speck under the arrow in the picture above. (The other
four favorite critters with visitors at Denali are moose, caribou, Dall
sheep, and wolves.)
tucked in behind the last bus and periodically crept forward for
about ten minutes while the bear grazed along the stream, giving
everyone ample opportunity to enjoy watching and photographing a
grizzly in the wild:
Above (another view of Denali) and below:
setting the scene for the location of the bear
Before day's end we also saw a caribou, several Dall
sheep, and two wolves in the wild. More about those on the next three pages.
It is moments like these that I get a bit of camera envy. Folks
with those long zoom lenses can probably see the individual whiskers
on that fella's snout!
When I purchased my compact 16-megapixel Sony Cyber Shot digital
camera Jim encouraged me to get an SLR with interchangeable
lenses instead. I should have listened, rather than trying to be
economical and "practical" -- it's so much
easier to carry and use a compact camera, and this one does
reasonably well with landscape photos.
I've got plenty of capacity with 16 megapixels. The main thing
I'm lacking is the ability to zoom in closely to subjects like
this bear that are far away. My Sony has more zoom than many
compact cameras (16x optical) but that's a far cry from powerful
I mostly don't want to take the time to research the plethora of
SLR options and learn how to use the doggone things. I had lots of
fun with a Nikon SLR and several kinds of lenses and fiilters back in the
1970s but I've forgotten most everything I once knew about f-stops
and exposures and all that. I don't even know how much of that is relevant
with today's digital SLRs.
I've tried to simplify my life since I retired. I'm not
sure I want to get a complicated camera and accessories even if
it means I can get much better pictures of far-off subjects than I do with compact
cameras. Heck, I'm too lazy to learn all the settings on the
much simpler camera I'm currently using!
<sigh> We'll see if I get a Big Girl camera for our
next Alaska trip . . .
Jim's trying to talk me into buying one when we get back to Anchorage,
not a year or two from now.
I suggested he get himself one but he doesn't enjoy
photography nearly as much as I do. He rarely uses the older
Canon 12-megapixel compact that he likes, and he even
more rarely uses the Sony because it doesn't have a viewfinder.
SO WHO NEEDS A FANCY SLR . . .
. . . when I was able to get shots of Denali like this
from Stony Hill and later at Eielson with my puny little compact camera????
Those photos are simply spectacular at full resolution, especially the close-up.
It's probably my favorite picture I've taken in my whole life. I
plan to use it as the header for all my 2013 website entries.
That view alone from Stony Hill was more than worth what we spent on our bus
tickets, and we were even closer to the mountain a few minutes
later when we got to the Eielson Visitor Center and along the
road to Wonder Lake.
Stay tuned for
more photos from Eielson, the most popular
tourist destination along the park road in Denali's backcountry.
Next entry: more spectacular views of Denali and
other peaks from Eielson, a remarkable place to spend several
hours (or days)
Approaching the Eielson Visitor Center
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil