I left home last Wednesday with the firm intention of driving north until I found the beautiful golds, yellows, oranges and reds that herald fall in Alaska. Fall would, hands down, be my favorite season of the year – IF it wasn’t invariably followed so darn closely by a cold, dark, often dismal winter.
There were only light touches of yellows and golds in the trees around the Mat-Su Valley where I live, but I found myself becoming depressed every time I glimpsed a bit of gold among the otherwise green branches, or noticed yellow leaves beginning to carpet the forest floor.
I’m not ready for winter, and these little signs of fall were taunting harbingers of what is coming. It was time to become proactive. I just wanted to get it over with. Besides, face it – fall is beautiful! 🍁
So I headed north, intent on courting the very thing I’d been both looking forward to and dreading here at home. FALL COLORS!
I’d heard it had snowed in Denali already and one look at the weather forecast showed there had been sufficient nights below freezing (32F) to have the change in season we’ll underway at higher altitudes.
I’d been following my weather apps closely, waiting until the last possible moment to decide when and which direction to head. I wanted at least a fair chance at blue skies to best contrast with newly snow-dusted mountain tops. Sunshine would also offer the best photo ops for brilliant yellow and gold foliage.
Finally, the weather looking auspicious, I told Jerry to pack his bag – it was time to go! The four of us; me, Jer, Baxter & Rhonda, loaded “Roada” up with food, extra blankets, boots, winter coats and wool hats and headed for Denali National Park to feast on fall colors.
The beautiful views started well before we reached DNP. We were sure glad we’d added our winter coats (1st time we’ve needed them this year). Check out the “termination dust” on the mountains as we neared the foothills of the Alaska Range.
Although skies were blue when we left home, clouds had rolled in, partially obscuring the sun, by the time we arrived at Trapper Creek, where we spent our first night. The forecast indicated it would clear again the following day and *should* be sunny, if not warm, for several days to come. Fingers crossed.
Thursday morning dawned clear and sparkling blue. We were on the road again shortly after 9:00 am, eager for our first glimpses of yellow and orange dappled trees and the signature red underbrush that [partly] makes up for Alaska’s lack of maple trees. It wasn’t long before we were rewarded.
We spent quite a while twiddling our thumbs sitting at a construction zone just beyond K’esugi Ken Campground. I took the opportunity to start teaching our youngest how to drive the RV, much to the flagger’s delight. 😉
Once we actually entered Denali NP and headed up the park road towards our camping destination at Savage River Campground, 17 miles inside the park, the scenery went rather abruptly from really pretty to OMG fantastic. I haven’t been down the Park road in nearly 15 years and had totally forgotten how astounding it was.
Our single night at Savage River campground was unforgettable. Not only was the drive in beautiful, but it snowed on us while we were camped there! To add a little heart palpitation to our stay, I did not fully anticipate the temps dropping to around 20F and hadn’t topped off Roada’s propane tank … it was blinking under 1/3rd full when we went to bed.
To (hopefully) make sure we didn’t run out overnight, we turned the furnace down to 50F and piled on the blankets. The furnace DID go into auto-shutdown when it got below 1/4 tank at 6am, but fortunately it was willing to manually start back up, giving us another couple of hours of warmth. The dachshunds were appreciative.
We were precariously close to empty when we finally found a propane supplier and filled up outside the park later that day. I won’t make that mistake again.
On the way out of the Park, I refocused my camera from the awe-inspiring mountain vistas to the fall foliage closer at hand.
It’s hard to beat autumn in Denali National Park, with its myriad of moods, mountains, flora and fauna. It reminded me how very much I love fall.
But I must say, these last shots of Denali, taken from the small town of Talkeetna, Alaska, were truly breathtaking. It isn’t often you are gifted with a completely unobstructed view of “the Great One“, Denali, along with the entire Alaska Range, even when you live here – much less several days in a row!
Thank you, Mother Nature, for offering me such a memorable four days of sheer beauty. I’m all better now!