We finally arrived in Alaska! We stayed in Tok at the Snowshoe Inn, and it doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, but it really was a nice, functional little inn.
We spent the first full day in Alaska in the Fairbanks area. We went to North Pole and went to the Santa Claus House. It was really cute, and as someone who loves dorky little Christmas Traditions, it was a lot of fun. They have little areas with reindeer, an amazing gift shop and I even sat on Santa’s lap. Plus, fun fact, this Santa told me that he won an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West, Florida. Too funny!
We drove around the city of Fairbanks, and went to the Museum of the North at The University of Fairbanks. It was really a cool little museum. I really wanted to see some Native American Art, which they had a lot of. As far as museums go, they had a lot different things, so there’s something for everyone. My dad really enjoyed their natural history exhibits, and there were a lot of cultural artifacts. There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy here.
Then we went to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which is something that my dad really wanted to see. He was so excited because he said that he remembered reading about the building of it in his “Weekly Readers” at school. So, I thought that that little trip was really cool. I always love seeing my dad get excited about this kind of thing.
The next day we headed towards Denali National Park where we spent three days. On the way there we saw Denali (Mt. McKinley), it was really an awe-inspiring moment, to be able to see this massive peak, knowing that I was looking at the highest point in all of North America! Sadly, on the way to the park was the only time we actually saw the peak, but some people don’t get to see it at all, so it’s definitely better than nothing!
Denali National Park was nothing short of spectacular. They call it a “wilderness” and it really is one of the only places that I’ve been that felt truly and genuinely wild. We went on the wilderness tour, and even though it was really cool and we saw a lot of wildlife and beautiful views, we decided that if we ever go back we’d rather take the shuttle buses that also stop for animals (just not as long), and the best part is that you can get off and hike for a while! Some of the wildlife that we saw included grizzlies (which, by the way, are actually blonde in Denali), moose, caribou, arctic squirrels, marmots, dall sheep and even wolves! The next couple of days we drove around the parts of the park that we could go into, and hiked around for a while. We even walked through some of the little shops, but of course everything is crazy-expensive, and not really worth it.
Our stay in Denali seems so short looking back on it, and there was a mild injury just before arriving (my dad fell down a very large hill trying to take a photo of Denali) so it seems like we didn’t get to see or do as much as we had planned, but there is always, always, always next time!
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