Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003

Saturday, July 14, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts


Day 39 - July 14, 2001 - We woke at our cabins outside of Denali National Park to discover that it was sprinkling and overcast. A 10:00 pm drive to the Park last night had confirmed that private cars could not drive into the park more than the first 14 miles. Furthermore, casual transportation such as the shuttle buses available in other parks is non-existent in Denali. A bus ride out to Wonder Lake cost $71/person and took 11 hours round trip. The assure you that you will see wildlife on this trip but can't guarantee that you will actually be able to see Mt. McKinley due to the clouds.. Other, shorter, bus rides were available but they were also pretty expensive and took 6 or 8 hours. It may be worth the money and time if you have several days to explore the park and line things up but we decided to explore what we could and not make ourselves crazy trying to get tickets. (NOTE to potential Denali visitors: you can order these tickets on-line in advance; a much better idea than arriving at 5:00 am to stand in line in hopes of getting some when you arrive.)

We slept in, had a lazy breakfast, and drove down to the park. It was a pretty drive in to the Savage River Campground but we didn't see any of the famous wildlife. We figure they are all behind the Ranger Station that stands on the road. RVs that are staying at one of the campsites (and only one campsite takes RV's) could pass but the tent campers had to take shuttle buses to get back to the campgrounds further in. We had a good visit with a ranger on duty, a man born in Texas ("You know how it is when you are born in Texas; you are ALWAYS from Texas".) and actually saw a caribou at a very great distance. Since it was too far away to photograph, you will have to take my word for it. Ken and Joyce went into Healy, the next town up the road and say they saw moose but we have to take their word for that, too. We have no pictures.

The park has fewer facilities than most we've been to but does have a pretty nice visitor's center. We watched a video there, bought some postcards of Denali, and headed back to the cabin. Jennifer fixed a wonderful supper of chicken parmesan (we had a small kitchenette in our cabin) and we settled in. It was a nice day but we were all disappointed that we had come this far and hadn't been able to see Denali itself.

714a - Steve Markowski, Ross Lilleker., and Jennifer Hardeman look for elusive wildlife in Denali National Park. That is Ross's right-hand drive '22 they are standing by. They didn't see anything except more mountains..


714b - At the Savage Mountain Ranger Station, we met and visited with a ranger who had recently moved to Denali from Zion National Park. He has a cabin up in the park and, as he says, he "protects the dirt while he co-worker protects the pavement". Not too long after this station, the road turns to dirt or gravel and, in part of the way to Wonder Lake, is only one lane wide.


714c - Even though the centerpiece of Denali National Park is Mt. McKinley (also known as Denali), there are numerous mountains in the Alaska Range that are more than 10,000 feet high. The rivers criss-cross the park and this one happens to be a little down. It is a pretty place, even if you can't see Denali itself. Mt. McKinley was actually not a part of the national park originally; it was added years later when it became a park and preserve.


714d - Just another interesting rock formation near the Ranger Station. It is here that we saw the caribou (with binoculars).


714e - The ranger recommended that we stop by the dog kennels on our way out of the park. They have a working team of sled dogs that they use for patrols in the winter and, in the summer, they give demonstrations for the tourists. We missed the program but got to see the dogs after their working day was done. There were quite a few dogs and they were all resting after their long day of entertaining visitors.


714f - The dogs had been fed and they were ready to sack out. Their food bowls were attached to the roof of their house and quite a few were just napping on the roof. There are several signs around, describing the qualities desired in a sled dog (courage, strength, tough feet). There were also signs telling visitors not to confuse these hard-working guys for house pets. I don't know, this guy looks like he'd be more comfortable on the couch.


714g - There was a new litter of puppies in one of the yards. We counted seven in this pile, cute as buttons. After years of listening to Sgt. Preston (and his loyal dog King) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I was surprised to see that not all the dogs are huskies. There are several breeds that make good sled dogs and, during the gold rush, they say that no dog north of Seattle that was bigger than a spaniel was safe from being used to pull a sled.

For Further Information Contact:

Ben or Nancy Hardeman
Texas T Parts
1820 Gray Stone Drive
Bryan, Texas 77807
Tel: 979-361-0271
e-mail: or

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