Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 17

January 19th, 2012 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, his wife Ardis and son David in their Avion Camper on a 1968 GMC Utility Body Pickup. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 16.”)

Part Seventeen: Fairbanks, Alaska to Mile 65.5 Denali Highway, Alaska

Cotton Grass, McKinley River Trail, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska copyright 1972 by Philip Hyde.

Thursday, July 15, 1971: Fairbanks, Alaska to Donnelly Creek State Campground, Richardson Highway, Alaska

The day started sunny and progressed to clouds and rain. At 7:00 am the sun was brightest when Malcolm Lockwood left for work as site photographer at NASA’s Gilmore Creek Tracking Site. By 9:00 am when we left Malcolm Lockwood’s home, storm clouds were already gathering. After grocery shopping and gas pumping we drove out of Fairbanks a ways. We passed Alaskaland, then decided to turn around to take David through. Alaskaland combines an amusement park with museums, kids activities, restaurants, shops, educational shows and more. After eating lunch we ventured inside. David liked the paddlewheel river boat and the army helicopter most. At last he had a ferris wheel ride that he and Philip took together. When we got back onto the Richardson Highway and passed through Delta Junction. On leaving Delta Junction, the road became much more interesting than the flat country of the Alaska Highway. The terrain along the Richardson Highway, though also open, presented many wooded rolling hills with small lakes between. We had dinner at a turnout, then dropped down to the broad tree strewn Delta River bed at the base of the Alaska Range peaks. The fireweed and pea vine bloomed in mats out into the river flat. Philip took some photographs along here in the late light. We stopped to look at Black Rapids Glacier. We drove several miles beyond, then returned to Donnelly Creek State Campground. This way we could do that stretch again the next day. The air turned cold and the clouds were solid. We were out of the mosquitos. The temperatures dropped into the 50’s. We heard on the radio that it was 36 degrees in Anchorage.

Friday, July 16, 1971: Donnelly Creek Campground, Richardson Highway to Mile 65.5 Denali Highway, Alaska

We rose at 6:45 am. It had been raining hard in the earlier morning. When Philip looked out the back door of the camper he exclaimed, “Wow,” seeing the Alaska Range peaks visible through a lifting veil of clouds with fresh snow on the lower slopes. We left hurriedly to get down the road for pictures. First Philip made some 2 ¼ Hasselblad photographs before we pulled away, then a short way down the road he brought out the Baby Deardorff 4X5 camera. He drove on and stopped again near the Donnelly Inn Hunting Lodge log and sod cabins. He made more photographs at Darling Creek. At Black Rapids, he made photographs of Black Rapids Glacier upstream of the river flat. He also pulled over at Rainbow Mountain for more pictures. We drove off the main road into Fielding Lake. Fielding Lake was larger than other lakes along the way and surrounded by low brushy slopes and very wet meadows. Philip photographed the abundant wildflowers including Monkshood, Valerian, Mertensia, and Groundsel. On our way back out of Fielding Lake, the rain began again and soon increased to hail. We ate our lunch before reaching the main Denali Highway. Once back on the highway, we soon could see the Gulkana Glacier at a turnout. We also stopped shortly after at the Summit Lake Lodge for gas and propane. We watched a floatplane take off from Summit Lake. We did not stop again until Paxson, Alaska for more gas. We picked up two ladies who needed a ride about 20 miles with a repaired tire for their camper. The Denali Highway started and continued with attractive views of a beautiful alpine setting. The highway stayed high along the ridges, where we were above everything and could see in all directions. We saw rolling mid green tundra accented with darker spruce trees. Lakes and ponds lay in all the swales. The distant snow covered high mountain peaks with snow clouds and mist in veils crowned the scene. Philip made frequent picture stops. Showers continued. We stopped at Tangle Creek Campground to let our ladies put on their tire. We continued to McClaren Summit where it rained hard, but we could still see what a flower garden it was at the roadside. Beyond a short distance, after we looked down at the McClaren River Valley, we stopped for dinner and hoped for the rain to abate to enable photographs. The many ponds below were catching the light. The rain abates and the mosquitos become fierce. After we eat dinner, Philip and David go out on the Tundra for more pictures, both 4X5 and 35 mm. With David in bed we drove on along a moraine top, and stop abruptly for images of a cow moose browsing in the brush close to the road. We made it to Denali Highway Mile 43 by 7:30 pm. Our next stop was at a small pond on the roadside with grass growing in it. A Wilson’s Snipe sat on a post and “cheeped” continually. Driving along the road a few minutes later, Philip suddenly stopped and pointed out the high snowy peaks of the Alaska Range visible almost due west. He was sure we were looking at the slopes below Mount Denali. The light was just right to make Philip a show and having him hopeful that the clouds would part. More pictures at Mile 62 around 8:30 pm. We go on a short distance to Mile 65.5 where we pull off on a track dropping below the main road on the left side and still in view of the distant Alaska Range, which was less clear of clouds every minute. The mosquitos were terrible all night even though the low went down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 18.”



  1. David – thank you for spring this. It brings back fond memories of my own trip to Denali in ’93 – the landscape, the weather, the attempt at making photos, and of course the Mosquitos! Are there any photos of you at Alaskaland? I’d love to see a shot of you as a kid in that army helicopter:)

  2. Hi Jerry, thank you for sharing about your trip. I just took a peek and am impressed with your website and blog. I look forward to delving into more of your very fine work. That’s a great idea about the helicopter photo. I’ll look. Even though I’ve gone at least briefly through all of Dad’s photos at least once, I’m still discovering new photographs I either missed or don’t remember five years later. Now that I’ve been writing these Denali National Park Travel Logs out, it will be fun to go through the photo file categories of Alaska again slowly and carefully, matching images to the Travel Logs.

  3. Frank Field says:

    David — Thanks for continuing to share this log your mother kept. Reading it brings back memories of my first trip to Alaska in 1975 – eons ago – juxtaposed with my most recent trip in 2008. Have you ever considered publishing this in book form (eBook works for me)? A combination of your father’s images from this trip and your mother’s writing would be most interesting. Frank

  4. Hi Frank, I am grateful that you appreciate my mother’s travel logs. Publishing this Denali travel log is inevitable. I would like to pursue traditional publishing first, then by all means, I’m sure I will put out some e-books. There’s enough material between all the travel logs for many books.

  5. pj says:

    Once again, a great read. It doesn’t bring back any Alaska memories for me, but it makes me want to go and make some…

    Ebooks still seem kind of weird to me, but they seem to be the norm anymore. These writings would probably do very well. Good luck with them.

  6. Frank has a great point! It would be fitting that their work would be shared together….

  7. Thank you, PJ and Derrick for your encouragement to publish. It’s in the plan, all in good time, God willing.

  8. Jim says:

    Another fine post. I’m looking forward to my first trip to Alaska. These posts underscore that the best part of landscape photography is actually being out in nature and experiencing it.

  9. That’s right, Jim, thanks.

  10. Greg Russell says:

    This is a fantastic entry…makes me want to go out and adventure, to live life…thanks again for sharing.

    I’m sure these would do very well as a book or an e-book, David. They would be an excellent resource for any photographer or anyone interested in the outdoors to have…

  11. Hi Greg, I enjoy reading your enthusiastic responses. My parents were certainly an inspiration in how to truly live. They did it, that’s for sure. Based on your reaction, these and some of the other travel logs might each sell a million copies. Regardless, I would be happy if they just reached the people like you who most care about what mattered to the Hydes.

  12. Sharon says:

    Hi David, I think a book would reach more than photographers. I can think of several non-photographers that I would buy a copy for. But I’m sure you’ll use this material in a way that is good for you and for your parent’s legacy.


  13. I think you’re right, Sharon. Please keep those people in mind. You’re very kind.

  14. Greg Boyer says:

    Not only did you get to share many of these experiences, but you have your mothers writings and your fathers photographs. What a magnificent legacy. I only hope that I can leave my children with a fraction of what your parents left you.
    Thank you for sharing, it is always enjoyable.
    I look forward to whatever you decide to publish.


  15. Hi Greg, Your comment somehow disappeared several days ago and reappeared today. Though it could be just my brain causing these discrepancies after working so much. Yes, I admit it, working with WordPress has brought me to sometimes question my own sanity, sometimes to congratulate myself for brilliance. I am very fortunate with an abundance of material to draw on. It’s also a lot of responsibility to share it with the world in a classy way that will open more doors for the work. It’s a big job and not necessarily one I expected or understood the scope of, but I did choose it. My parents never said I HAD to do anything. My choice was to do something with the fortunate gift I have received: to pass it on to future generations.

  16. Mike Criss says:

    Great read, I know all the places talked about. Fascinating to think how much things have changed. I have not driven the Denali Highway for a couple years, when I return I will look for these pull-offs!

  17. Hi Mike, I would enjoy comparing notes sometime. Must be interesting for you knowing the difference between 1971 and now along the Alaska Highway and others.

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