Denali National Park and Preserve closes down each winter becoming a ghost town. The shops are all boarded up along the boardwalk. The hotels, restaurants, and camp grounds closed. The thousands of seasonal employees have all returned to whatever state or country they’re from. Thankfully, it’s now the end of May and the park has started to come alive again. Rachelle and I decided to celebrate our anniversary with a trip to Denali on the opening weekend.
With the cabin build, we knew that time this summer would be limited so while there was still ice flowing in the Tanana River, we decided now was the best time to escape to the Park.
We left Fairbanks on a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun was already high in the sky, the temperature was well into the 50’s, which is just about perfect t-shirt weather after months of below zero temps. With some road snacks and a playlist we hit the highway for the 130 mile drive.
We have previously camped inside the Park and have stayed at the Denali Cabins. The experience is vastly different with each but always enjoyable. This time I reserved a room at the Denali Park Village and we weren’t disappointed. Check in was quick and simple and after dropping our bags in the room we checked out the trail that runs along the Nenana River. The river, running high and fast from all of the snow melt, was free of ice finally but large chunks sat on the banks glistening in the sun.
We had read about the Dinner Nite Theater, a combination of Alaskan cuisine, storytelling, music and humor. The show is interactive and very entertaining, the seating is family style, and the food is plentiful. We found most of the people at our table were tourist which led to lengthy conversations, mostly about Alaska. The couple seated across from us was from Florida and were really into fishing so we found ourselves sharing our stories and photos of pike and salmon fishing.
With full stomachs and enough socializing to last a few days, we spent some more time walking the river together as we made our way back to our room for the evening.
Check out our next post for our hike along Savage River during our trip to Denali.