Friday morning Landon and I borrowed my parents' RAV4 and ate homemade granola as we drove two hours south to Denali National Park. Does life get better? This adventure, more than any other spot near my hometown, was what Landon was looking forward to seeing the most. I had grown up visiting Denali yearly with my family. As a family of 7, when the ticket lottery happened statistically once of us were bound to be drawn for a pass for all access into the park. During the busy summer season, from May til mid September, cars can only drive 15 miles into the park at which point you have to turn around, stop to play, or buy a ticket on a bus. But with our lottery ticket in hand, year after year we got to visit in mid September all the way to Wonder Lake, 85 miles in. As a young girl I dreamed of seeing giraffes, then once I got older I shot for just seeing a porcupine. I never understood the excitement my dad had for seeing wildlife. Now, knowing my grandpa more, I realize it runs in the family.
This visit, with Landon and Paityn, we chose to drive in the 15 miles and stop to play, or rather, hike. But let me back up.
Before you really enter the park there are beautiful hotels, small gift shops all in a row, and increasingly beautiful views. We grabbed a light lunch, let tourists snap pictures of Paityn, window shopped, then headed off to pay our entrance fee and get suggestions on what to hike that day.
I did decide to split the two posts up so this one didn't get too long, so follow along to part two HERE
Before I move on to the second half of the day, I wanted to end with saying how much I love Denali. There's something special and exciting being up there. Though somethings have changed since I went as a young girl with my family, the memories are still beautiful to me. If you haven't been, add Denali it to your bucket list for sure! Landon and I can't wait to return to do + see more and more each time.