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Denali in June experiences?

Ellis Vener , Jan 03, 2006; 10:56 p.m.

Anyone have any info about what Denali NP is like in early/mid June? What i might expect in terms of weather and visibility.

Responses

Ellis Vener , Jan 03, 2006; 10:57 p.m.

also wildlife activity , flora , crowds. etc.

Eric Rowland , Jan 04, 2006; 12:46 a.m.

Last year we spent the first two weeks of June in Alaska. While we did not go into Denali, we visited Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island. Early June is a great time to visit as the weather is nearly perfect and the bugs and other tourists are not yet in full force. I would recommend Alaska in late May or early June as highly as any place I�ve visited.

Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Jan 04, 2006; 01:16 a.m.

Being a rafter, what I remember most from last early June was, the water was high all around there from an early thaw and heavy snow. Chulitna was flooding, and Nenana nearly so. Rafts were being up-ended and helicopters were used for extraction. Weather was cool, but not cold, with a few rainy days. Later in June the water was lower. We had a great trip on the Chulitna.

Okay, that's not really what you asked.

In most of Alaska, late May through the middle of July has the best/driest weather and the most mosquitos. (They're horrid. I much prefer August.) At higher elevations it will be cooler and summer will come later. Late June might be better. More chance of seeing green on the trees. Every year is different though. Just be warned that early June can be marginal for weather at higher elevations, and in Alaska anything over 3000' is considered "higher elevations" as far as the weather, flora and fauna is concerned.

Have a nice trip. I might be in the area about that time myself if the water levels cooperate.

Douglas Herr , Jan 04, 2006; 11:22 a.m.

Weather and visibility is highly variable from one day to the next, and depending on where you hike. Some of the mountains and ridges will be in clouds while the lowlands are clear.

It's likely you won't have short-sleeve weather; I've seen snowfall in every month of the summer but it's more the exception than the rule. Be prepared for rain and bugs.

Ron Niebrugge , Jan 04, 2006; 01:21 p.m.

I have made numerous trips to Denali in early to mid-June, I think it is one of the better time of years there.

That time of year is great for seeing new-born animals which can lead to numerous photo opportunities. Not only are new-borns cute, but they are also the source of increased predation.

It does tend to be dryer that time of year. I have been snowed on then, and one year had 80 degree temperatures, so warm that it was hard to sleep in the tent at night. The mosquitoes usually start appearing around mid June; one day you may notice a few, the next day a bunch.

The landscape just begins to turn green that time of year, the higher elevation are likely to be brown with snow remaining. Wildflowers usually aren�t prevalent until later in June. The way the weather has been the last couple of years, this could all be different this year.

The visitor numbers are usually relatively low then. This might be helpful on Denali.

Ron Niebrugge , Jan 04, 2006; 04:20 p.m.

Ellis, two more considerations came to mind. If you take the bus, make sure you go at least until Fish Creek. The Eileson (sp ?) Visitor Center will be under construction next year and beyond and Fish Creek will take its place. You need to go at least this far to get a decent view of �The Mountain".

If you want to go to Wonder Lake � scheduled service doesn�t begin until June 8th.

Lilly W , Jan 04, 2006; 04:21 p.m.

I believe a glance at the historical weather data will show May poses a much lesser threat for precip / clouds than June, yet it�s likely to be much cooler as well�thus early June will likely be preferable to mid-June. The visibility may be spotty given the fickle nature of mountain weather.

You�ll have no shortage of daylight hours approaching the solstice at such a latitude (400 km/ 250 mi from the Arctic Circle). All that daylight will make you want to get-up and go, as we did, covering lots of terrain. It�s conceivable to have a peerless sky, horizon-to-horizon, save for the lenticular parked atop Denali (6,194m / 20,320 ft), quite dramatic at sunrise / sunset (or to be in the thick of it at 6k m!). The widespread cloud-cover can sometimes remain for days, clearing only briefly and occasionally. If you have other interests during the course of your stay you may want to get an extended forecast to see what�s coming off the Pacific and coordinate accordingly, perhaps returning to DNP and better weather after a few days elsewhere.

July/August has a greater influx of tourists than June. The bug-life will likely not have peaked during your visit but what life there is will certainly greet you with open arms. The spring run-off will make for swollen rivers and standing water, pleasing to bugs and flowers alike. Grab ahold of some high-octane DEET, maybe a mosquito headnet and the smoke of your choice to fend-off the voracious critters. I�ve not spent much time at the lower altitudes but surmise you�ll be pleased by the June flora. The wildlife will also be on the move, having only recently emerged from a winter blanket. If you wander from the road, mind the bears and get properly schooled on behavior, both yours and theirs.

I have to recommend a pass through the eclectic enclave of Talkeetna, the jump-off point for 99% of climbing expeditions into DNP. You�ll enjoy the mix of eccentric locals, seasoned alpinists and aspiring mountaineers who have come from near and far to reach the top of N America. Wander into the Fairview Inn, buy a beer (or three) to loosen local lips and enjoy.

The best for last�the icing on your Alaska cake could well be a sight-seeing trip into and around DNP. I recommend the good folks at Talkeetna Air Taxi. Provided you get an A-1 weather window you could fly into Kahiltna Base (glacier landing strip for 95% of Denali climbers at 2,200m / 7,200ft) in the morning, shoot all day and fly out in the evening. Or in the case of a low ceiling, hop in a plane and get above it! This is more than you asked�but it is Alaska, after all!

Stephen Lewis , Jan 04, 2006; 09:42 p.m.

I went in June several years ago and determined that 40-60 degrees F was the right gauge for clothing (at most lower elevations). I had to buy some summer clothes as it got up to 92 for 4 days. While visiting Denali, I discovered that helo (tour) flights were required to keep 13 miles from the peak unless they had special authorization. Even then, the peak wasn't visible the days I tried. Did see it from an airplane...and it was awesome seeing the base camps and climbers. The park is intriguing. Best bet on clothes is to check with the locals closer to your anticipated visit. The weather, you take it as it comes.

Raymond Liguori , Jan 06, 2006; 11:41 p.m.

I spent 10 days in Denali just this past June. I could have spent the whole summer. The temperature was cool but not cold and it only rained on one day (and we still hiked all day). Be sure to bring quality rain gear. The mosquitoes were not as bad as advertised although they were noticibly worse for the two days that I stayed at the park entrance. Ditto on the DEET, but the head net was not necessary (unless you are uber-sensitive).

Visibility is hit or miss. In the 10 days I was there I never had a completely clear view of the mountains. My goal of recreating Ansel Adams view of McKinley in Reflection Pond was thwarted. I suppose that I could have spent the entire time in that one spot, but there is just too much more to see and shoot.

The wildlife and landscape photography opportunities are phenominal. There were lots of babies around. To that end, I highly recommend spending some time around Wonder Lake. I spent some quality time shooting a Moose and her two calfs in the various ponds near the lake. If you are not up for camping, try the Kantishna Roadhouse (where I stayed) or one of the other lodges nearby. The Roadhouse was not cheap, but you can't beat the friendly and informative staff, especially the guides. Book early.

If you are camping, reserve your bus ticket as early as possible. Cars are only allowed in for the first 10 miles or so. The other 90+ miles are only accessible by bus or bike. I am pretty sure than you can't just buy your bus ticket when you arrive.

I would second the vote for an airplane tour around the park. The views are spectacular.

My highspeed connection is down (Verizon DSL sucks!). When it is back-up, I will post a few of my favorite images from the trip.


Attachment: Wonder Lake.jpg

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