Day 3 – Saturday

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We woke up about 04:30 this morning. Tried to lay around a little longer, but that’s not very easy to do when it’s bright as noon out. We pulled out of the campground and started heading toward Denali again. We stopped for gas about 20 miles south of Denali NP and paid $2.43/gal! Just a few miles before we got to the park, we came upon two large moose cows in a pond on the side of the road. We enjoyed watching them for a little while. When we got to the NP, we briefly wondered the visitor center and scoped out bus/campground availability in order to decide how to plan our time there. We definitely wanted to camp at least one night at Wonder Lake, but it was booked for tonight and the night after tomorrow, so one night is all we’re getting. We decided to stay at the Riley Creek Campground at the park entrance tonight and we booked two seats on the first camper bus (06:30) into Wonder Lake for the morning. We went to Riley Creek campground to pick our spot for the night and then drove into the park as far as we could (private vehicles can only go as far as Savage River – 15 miles in – to go further than that, you have to ride one of their old school buses). There is a 2 mile loop trail at Savage River that takes you along one side of the river, has a footbridge to cross and comes back along the other side. Along the way, we saw a family of ptarmigans (the other state bird – after the mosquito, of course) and a happy ground squirrel. When we got to the bridge, we decided to hike on up the mountain a bit. It was beautiful. The further we went, the more we wanted to keep going (yes, even after all the bear tracks we saw in the trail). I’d say we probably went another 2 miles out to a point before we decided to turn back. Of course, we sat out on the point for a good while, relaxing in the cold breeze and soaking in all the beauty around us. It was amazing. On the way back, we saw a big, fluffy marmot, more ptarmigans, and more ground squirrels. It was such a pleasant, refreshing, and relaxing hike. On the way back to the car, there was a large group of people looking over the bridge at a moose, but i think they were seeing things. By the time we got back to the car, it was decided that it was shower time. We went back to Riley Creek campground and bought a couple of $4 showers from the mercantile. That was a great shower. All nice and clean, we decided to go out of the park to grab some dinner and look through some of the shops. We went to bed around 22:30.