I found a beautiful hidden campsite to start my time at Riley Creek. Tucked near the back of the campground I set up my tent and settled in for three days. A short trail behind my tent led down to the banks of a rushing Riley Creek. Along the trail and banks of the creek I found many moose tracks. There were also many warning signs reminding me I was in prime bear country.
The park road in Denali is over 85 miles long, but after the thirteen mile mark it is closed to private vehicle traffic unless you obtain a special use permit. After three days at Riley Creek I will have a permit that will allow me to drive to a campground 33 miles into the park. Until then I can ride the park bus system or I can explore the first 13 miles of roadway. I opted to explore the 13 miles I could access at with my own vehicle.
There seems to be moose everywhere. At this time of year their antlers are growing to a large, impresive size and they are starting to eye potential rivals for the rut season. One evening I stopped along the road and watched five big males trying to ignore each other. Three on one side of the road and two on the other.
At the thirteen mile mark of the highway is the Savage River. Each morning I would wake early and make the drive out there to be one of the first to hike it in the morning. And each day brought me new surprises.
On the fourth morning I was up very early and broke camp to make the move to the Teklanika River Campground. Arriving early gave me first choice on the campsite opening up that day. I found a nice spot about 50 feet from the campgrounds outdoor amphitheater and I stones throw from the river channel. Teklanika or Tek has now electrical sites and no showers. There are two water spigots in the park where you can fill your water containers. The toilets are improved vault style toilets. Not modern but not to bad either. This is where I will spend the next nine days.
For nine days I was surrounded by incredible vistas, wildflowers of every color and many types of beautiful animals. One evening I even had a grizzley bear visit the nearby amphitheater to watch me for a short time. And Mt McKinley also known as Mt Denali or "The High One" was a near constant companion. I was witness to more then my share of clear days while in the park.