As mentioned in my last posting Interior Alaska can be a challenging place to explore with young children. Interestingly, Denali National Park and Preserve reports that the average age of visitors to the park is 62, which truly surprised me, considering that it’s a huge wilderness area. However, it’s easier to understand that statistic when you see that many of the visitors arrive at the park on buses operated by the cruise ships. It’s not just challenging for families with young children, though, it’s challenging for everyone. Indeed, Chris McCandless, a young man aged 24 died in the park in 1992 after hiking in on the Stampede Trail, becoming sick and failing to exit the wilderness. His story was published in the book called “Into the Wild” by author Jon Krakauer and later adapted into a film of the same name directed by Sean Penn. Anyway, we have no intention of hiking off deep into the wilderness with our children, but there are many reminders that things are different in Alaska which make it live up to its reputation as The Last Frontier.
Ok, so we haven’t been in any life-threatening situations in Alaska yet, and hopefully never will be. However, being one of the first (sometimes the first) RVers to arrive at some of the campsites has given us an indication of some of the difficulties people have to face when living in Alaska. The last three campsites we’ve stayed at (including Denali NPP) have had issues with fresh water, frozen sewage systems and no electricity. In Denali NPP the sign read “There is no fresh water in the park. Welcome to Alaska!”. So all visitors should come prepared – unless you’re on a cruise ship.
Anyway, back to the update of our journey. We left Fairbanks on Thursday and travelled down the George Parks Hwy (I told you they give names to all the roads) to Denali NPP. We booked into the Riley Creek near the entrance to the park for 2 nights, which was the longest we could stay since the campsites were booked because it’s Memorial Day weekend. We hadn’t even realized it was a holiday weekend! Several weeks ago booked a campsite inside the park for the first week of June so we’re going to come back to Denali again, anyway. In the park we did see a mother moose and two calves and go to visit the working sled dogs. On Saturday, we drove about 30 miles south of the park to a place called Cantwell and booked into the Cantwell RV Park, which has running water, a sewage dump and electricity. Woohoo! A chance to shower, dump our tanks and fill up on fresh water. Apart from that, and the opportunity to connect to WiFi, there’s no other reason to stay at Cantwell as far as I can tell. Apparently, we need to drive another 100 miles south to the nearest grocery store.
Tomorrow we’re driving a little further south on the Parks Highway, but not too far because we have to return to Denali at the end of the week – with lots of fresh water and a fridge stocked full of supplies for a week in the wilderness (in our RV).