Home · Register · Software · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username  

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  New Feature: SMS Notification alert
  New Feature: Buy & Sell Watchlist
  

FM Forums | Trip Location Advice & Meet-ups | Join Upload & Sell

  

Denali in Autumn for Landscapes
  
 
Ed McGuirk
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


I live in New England, but also enjoy photographing autumn landscapes in other parts of the country to get a wider variety of autumn images. I have wanted to shoot at Denali in late August or early September, and am looking for some advice. Primarily interested in landscapes, wildlife is a bonus, but not a primary focus for me.

I am considering a Van Os workshop that goes to North Face Lodge in the parks interior, and also considering booking North Face Lodge directly and go by myself. I know there are a lot of restrictions of where you can go in Denali. Without camping, this seems the best way to have a chance at Wonder Lake (weather permitting) . I also am interested in the color in the tundra, and landscapes like near Polychrome pass. I know this is very different than New England, but that's the point. Does anyone have any experience with photographing based out of North Face lodge or Camp Denali?

Also wondering if in addition to staying in the interior, whether there are enough landscape opportunities within the first 15 miles, which can be accessed by car, and maybe make that part of this trip as well, and stay at lodging outside the park entrance for a few days.

Also given the restrictions in Denali, are there other places in Alaska that are accessible by car , and offer similar autumn landscape opportunities but without the access restrictions. For example, are there good autumn landscape locations around Anchorage, or along the road from Anchorage to Denali that could be done as an adjunct to a Denali trip?

Thank you for any advice or comments that you might have.






Feb 15, 2017 at 02:29 PM
Scott Stoness
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


I have not been to Denali or Anchorage (Skagway, Whitehorse, Dawnson City, Kluane though) so I have no tips for Denali but to say you have chosen the right week (last in August/ first in September). Later the color goes quickly. Earlier and its hard to find a sunrise because its so bright. I think the last week in August is best.


Feb 15, 2017 at 10:27 PM
bflood
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Because of the sub-arctic tundra climate, the tree line in Denali is about 3,000 ft, and the valley floor is mostly at or above 3,000 feet. As a result, you'll find some aspens around the park entrance and for a few miles into the park, after which they peter out, leaving only fir trees. The elevation of the valley floor drops some at the end of the road in the Kantishna area, which allows small (leafed) trees to grow. Also, the fir trees are small - they don't add much growth annually, so a 150 year old tree might be only about 7 feet tall.

While trees are rather scarce, the landscape is covered with shrubbery, related to birch and willow. That shrubbery turns in the fall, which is in the time frame you are planning for - later August into September.

When my wife and I went there, August 28 through Labor Day weekend, 2008, the color was spectacular. We stayed outside the park in Healy (10 miles north) at a place called the Denali Park Hotel - nice place in 2008.

The only part of the park road that can be driven in a private vehicle (if not camping) is about 15 miles long, from the park entrance to the Savage River. Good paved 2 lane road, lots to see in the way of scenery and wildlife. But to see anything farther in requires a bus ride. We took the Kantishna shuttle, which leaves early (about 730 AM IIRC) and takes all day to make the round trip to the end of the line in Kantishna and back - got off the bus around 8 PM. Great day, bus driver stopped when anyone saw an animal, was well informed and made for an excellent tour guide without paying for a tour bus. That day was a cloudy, drizzly day, so we saw lots of animals (they hide when it's warm). The shuttle stops at Polychrome Pass, but the weather didn't cooperate. The following day the clouds parted and the mountain was in full sun for the first time in months. We got seats on the mountain tour bus, so we got closer than the paved road allows. Along the paved road, I was shooting 75 miles from the mountain and it was beautifully visible. Where the tour stopped, I shot from about 40 miles away.

Look up Denali State Park - it actually has a more comprehensive view of Denali if the weather allows. In the national park, you see the mountain from 3000 feet up; in the state park on the south side, it's visible from 400 feet up.

On our trip, we went south of Anchorage onto the Kenai Peninsula the week BEFORE we went to Denali, and there was no color yet down there - very different climate. I can recommend taking the all-day tour from Seward to the Kenai Fjords National Park. No fall foliage, but some wildlife and spectacular scenery. A catamaran is easier on motion sickness than a single hull boat.

Have fun - wish I was going, too.



Feb 16, 2017 at 03:58 AM
tazmans
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


I have made about 4 trips in the fall into the park now. Plenty to view and see in the first 15 miles till the gate. The shuttle bus is cheap and well worth the price. If the mountain is out, they will stop at a couple of iconic places to shoot as well as pull over in many places that are also spectacular views. I have also done the road lottery in the fall and was very disappointed. Very dusty and too many cars. A bear along the road would have 30 cars jammed up. Normal for Yellowstone but I am from Alaska and am use to a quieter experience. The bus will stop for critters and you are elevated off the road and above the brush for the most part. If you see the photos of Ansel Adams when he went in there, he had built a platform on his ole car to get above the brush line. On the bus you have 30 pairs of eyes searching for animals to much better chance of a sighting.
Areas near by that are great is a 120 mile long gravel road not to far from the entrance to the park called the Denali highway. Chuck holes abound but high plains and it travels along the south side of the Alaska range so spectacular scenery. A great drive is to leave Denali camp area and head across the Denali highway. will take better part of the day with stops and shooting. It will come out onto another highway that you take to the south and get to Glennallen. Hotel there so hot shower if you are in camping mode is sure welcome. You can continue south from here to Valdez or to the west towards Anchorage. It will cross high grounds again which also allow for beautiful fall colors. The Glennallen area is near 4 large shield volcanos that are in the 12 to 14 thousand foot range. As soon as you turn south when you leave the Denali highway you are back on pavement all the way back to Anchorage. The roads have frost heave most the way so you are not doing 60. Mid september is a good shot at some colors. The east end of the Denali, i have seen the tundra flame red. so beautiful up there. Get the Alaska Milepost so you can plan your fuel. This is just a little of what the interior looks like in the fall colors. http://www.pbase.com/tazman0895/alcan_highway_and_the_interior




Mar 02, 2017 at 05:50 AM
Doc4659
Online
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Looking to go myself so I'm tagging into the Topic



Mar 02, 2017 at 09:37 PM
garyroach
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Hope you have great weather. I was at Denali a few years ago in the fall and had nothing but rain, mist, and fog. Couldn't see further than 100 yards. I did manage to land on a glacier on Denali on a flight from Talkeetna which was the highlight of that trip. Hope to try it again some day with better weather.


Mar 23, 2017 at 06:07 AM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Sierra Hotel
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Residing in AK from 1992-2013, I can second the Denali Highway drive from Cantwell to Paxton - it is breathtaking, weather permitting. It is not unusual to run into snow along the highway the last week of August/first week of September. And tazman's description is a little kind - most of the rental car companies explicitly prohibit the operation of their vehicles on the Denali Highway - it is a rough gravel road, and not a highway even by the very loosest description. Expect frost heaves and potholes that can swallow most small children and vehicles. I used to moose hunt up on the Denali, and if you run into a sunny day or two you will have some really memorable photos. Tangle Lakes can be beautiful and the grayling fishing is incredible. And make sure you get breakfast at McLaren Lake Lodge - The owner Butch is a neat guy, and you'll take a little step back in time . . . .


Apr 04, 2017 at 06:27 PM
dalite
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


bflood wrote:
Because of the sub-arctic tundra climate, the tree line in Denali is about 3,000 ft, and the valley floor is mostly at or above 3,000 feet. As a result, you'll find some aspens around the park entrance and for a few miles into the park, after which they peter out, leaving only fir trees. The elevation of the valley floor drops some at the end of the road in the Kantishna area, which allows small (leafed) trees to grow. Also, the fir trees are small - they don't add much growth annually, so a 150 year old tree might be
...Show more



Apr 19, 2017 at 04:03 AM
runakid
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Have lots of fun. Great advice. Not sure I would ever ride the bus again. Did it twice and that's enough for me.


Apr 19, 2017 at 08:24 AM
Schlotkins
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Sierra Hotel wrote:
Residing in AK from 1992-2013, I can second the Denali Highway drive from Cantwell to Paxton - it is breathtaking, weather permitting. It is not unusual to run into snow along the highway the last week of August/first week of September. And tazman's description is a little kind - most of the rental car companies explicitly prohibit the operation of their vehicles on the Denali Highway - it is a rough gravel road, and not a highway even by the very loosest description. Expect frost heaves and potholes that can swallow most small children and vehicles. I used to
...Show more

Is there any place you can rent from and drive this road? thanks!

We are planning to head up late August for about 5 or 6 says. How long should we stay at Denali? Landscape mostly, Animals are a bonus... I'm just starting planning so totally open on how we should spend our time!

Chris



Jun 03, 2017 at 09:11 PM
lesgage
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Yep, we go to Haines, about Sept 15th or so, and make the drive into Canada and generally the leaves and mountains are great....
Les



Jun 03, 2017 at 11:55 PM
Sierra Hotel
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Denali in Autumn for Landscapes


Schlotkins wrote:
Is there any place you can rent from and drive this road? thanks!

We are planning to head up late August for about 5 or 6 says. How long should we stay at Denali? Landscape mostly, Animals are a bonus... I'm just starting planning so totally open on how we should spend our time!

Chris


Chris, as far as a rental, I'd rent from your favorite place, and make sure you get an SUV - if you're reasonably cautious the road won't be an issue - just plan on driving slow, putting up with a rutted (and maybe muddy) drive, and you'd be fine. And I wouldn't mention where I'm driving.

Regarding Denali, you're going to be tied to going in on one of the busses, and I believe the lottery for being able to drive your own car in the two days it opens to private vehicles is already past. Look to schedule what you can, unless you are young and adventurous and want to hike in to camp in the park - which it's available. Another thought is to rent an RV in Anchorage and control everything about your schedule and vacation (and reduce your trip cost too - hotels in AK in the summer are CRAZY expensive). Enjoy the trip, and don't hesitate to reach out any time,

Best,

SH






Jun 04, 2017 at 12:45 PM







FM Forums | Trip Location Advice & Meet-ups | Join Upload & Sell

    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username     Reset password