Tag Archives: Denali

Sociology on the Denali Bus

Where would be better to study sociology than on the Denali National Park bus?  You could write an entire PhD dissertation by observing interactions among bus passengers and perhaps get a masters degree in family counseling while you’re at it.  Each of our buses appeared to have at least 5 countries represented and lots of large multi-generational family groups.  After a few hours of listening to Grandma, Mother, and Grandson, you sure know a lot about how that family works.  There was the Dad in the big camouflage jacket who kept clapping his son on the back and saying “ya know, if we’re gonna start hunting, we gotta get you some better gear.”  Though the son smiled back there was nothing in any of his body language or replies that suggested he had even the slightest interest in getting a Read more »

Get Off the Bus

We arrived at Denali National Park after a 6hr drive from Seward.  We then had the choice of booking a 6-hr bus-ride, an 8-hr bus-ride, or an 11-hr bus-ride.  They all sounded dreadful.  A scan of the 3-D map and the available start times (for example, booking a bus ride for 6am was out of the question) left us with only one serious option … an 8-hr bus ride leaving at 9am the next day.  Still sounds miserable and, note, the day after the bus ride we have a 4.5 hr drive and a 3.5 hr plane ride. Who planned this trip?

The bus driver introduced himself as Scott Richardson.  You should write that down because if you ever go to Denali, it would be worth the trouble to try to get on Scott’s bus.  He loves that park and he is everything you might want in a bus driver (almost – it would have been swell if he could have fixed the leaky coolant) and more.  He talked about the plants, ecology, history, the moose by the side of the road (cool!).  He’s not an official guide; he’s “just” a bus driver so he can only answer questions but he encourages so many questions and he answers them so well that you might be confused about whether or not you are on a guided bus ride.  Eventually, we also rode with Barr, Cindy, and Kat.  They all loved the park and provided information, helped us spot wildlife, etc.  But I guess you never get over your first bus driver.

You can hop on and off the bus anywhere in Denali National Park (except where it is Read more »

Learning in the Park

National Parks are ideal family destinations.  They’ve already done all the work to make it fun and education for your kids.  The coolest program is the Discovery Pack program, available at lots of National Parks (but not all).  We used them at Denali National Park; They’re available at Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Wupatki, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Voyagers, Canyon Lands, Yellowstone etc .  Inside there might be activity guides, books, plant, bird, or animal ID cards, magnifying glasses, binoculars, thermometers, water testing kits, clay for making footprint casts, a blank journal, water color pencils, pastels, pens, blank postcards to create your own.  All to borrow for free in most parks (some ask for a small donation).  Some parks offer ranger programs to teach you what to do with the pack.  Other parks, for example Biscayne National Park, have packs for teachers with lesson plans and all curriculum materials for a group of students.

There is also the Junior Ranger Program.  Each kid gets a booklet Read more »