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Byers Lake, Trapper Creek & Petersville Road, Alaska

2 September 2010 - Thursday

Woke to brilliant blue skies! Slept in too.

There is a trail from the Byers Lake campground to the Veterans Memorial rest area, which is also a viewpoint for THE mountain, Mt. McKinley. It is also known as Denali. After trudging up the hill we were greeted with a stunning view. 

Mt McKinley / Denali from Veterans Memorial in Denali State Park
Morning view from Veterans Memorial rest area on the Parks Highway in Denali State Park

After taking too many pictures, we headed back down the hill and again explored the trails around Byers Lake. 

Byers Lake in Denali State Park, Alaska
Mist on Byers Lake

While walking on the campground ring road, we realized we were being watched.
Deep in the shade of a tree, I saw the culprit.

Grouse at Byers Lake, Alaska
Grouse at Byers Lake campground in Denali State Park

Grouse at Byers Lake, Alaska
Grouse well disguised in the trees at Byers Lake

The day was sunny and the mountain was clear. Figured it was a good day to drive westward from Trappers Creek, on the Petersville Road. On the way to Trappers Creek we stopped again at Denali Viewpoint South. And sure enough, today the mountain was visible. 

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Mt McKinley / Denali viewed from Denali Viewpoint South

The traditional Athabascan word for this mountain is Denali, which means "The High One".  However, it was officially named Mount McKinley for William McKinley, a presidential nominee, circa 1896.

For the past century the name has been controversial. In 1980, the national park was renamed to "Denali National Park and Preserve". The Alaska Board of Geographic Names also officially changed the mountain's name to its traditional name, Denali. However, the mountain is still officially labeled as Mount McKinley by the US Board of Geographic Names. 

Regardless of what you want to call this pile of rock & ice, it is an impressive sight from any angle.

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Close up of Denali from Denali Viewpoint South

Two tour buses full of people arrived. The viewpoint had been vacant when we arrived, and now ...  

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Denali Viewpoint South filled with tourists from the buses

We carried on southward. The road to the Princess Lodge looked interesting so we turned on to it. A short ways up there are fabulous views of Denali. 

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Denali viewed from the road to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge - N62 33.553 W150 13.557

And a close up with the zoom lens. 

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Denali with the Canon 100-400 lens at full zoom: 400mm from the Princess Lodge road

At Trapper Creek the truck turned westward on Petersville Road. Initially the road was in good shape with asphalt. At Mile 10 the asphalt ended. Eventually the road became muddy and rutted. Without the fifth wheel it wasn't a problem, just had to go slow.

About two-thirds of the way in, there was an area for camping groups. A gravel parking area with outhouses. It looked like a group was there for a weekend of ATV riding.

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Denali viewed from Petersville Road - N62 19.672 W150 31.971

The clouds were moving in so the mountain was obscured.
The views across the colourful muskeg were great though.   

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Clouds moving across Denali - N62 20.463 W150 36.332

I decided to stretch the zoom lens again as the clouds cleared the mountain top for a few minutes. 

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Denali view from near the end of Petersvile Road - N62 21.479 W150 41.348

At the end of the road is the Forks Roadhouse. We hoped to have lunch here but the sign indicated it wasn't open on this day. Too bad for us! It looked interesting. 

Forks Roadhouse, Alaska
Front door of the Forks Roadhouse

Summer Hours were posted as Friday 3 p.m. to 5 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to midnight. Open weekends only. 

Denali / Mt McKinley, Alaska
Forks Roadhouse at the end of Petersville Road - N62 22.346 W150 43.918

Apparently the road continues past the Roadhouse. However, it also deteriorates. So we decided to head back to camp. 

Stopped in for lunch at Trappers Creek Trading Post. Good food and Tazz was welcome on the outside deck. It was a good lunch in the sunshine. Thoroughly enjoyable! 

Parks Highway, Alaska
Northbound on the Parks Highway - N62 36.217 W150 13.785

On the way back Steve spotted some downed trees alongside the road. After taking me back to the fifth wheel, he headed back with his chainsaw.

There was a crew working nearby and he asked if he could cut the dead trees for firewood. The crew lead told him to do so, otherwise it would be wasted. So we got a few bins of firewood to take with us into Denali National Park.

Later in the evening we hiked up the Veterans Memorial again. I hoped to get some late evening shots of the mountain.

It was not to be. Clouds had moved across it. Instead I took some shots of the memorial in the evening light.

Alaska Veterans Memorial
Plaque at the Alaska Veterans Memorial

This place is a restful spot. It was very nice. A serene ending to a good day.

Alaska Veterans Memorial

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