Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 18

May 22nd, 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 17.”)

Part Eighteen: Mile 65.5 Denali Highway, Alaska to Riley Creek Campground, Denali National Park, Alaska (Previously McKinley National Park)

Lake Near Susitna River, Denali National Park, Alaska, copyright 1971 Philip Hyde.

Saturday, July 17, 1971: We were happy to wake up to blue sky between the clouds. We ate breakfast and got away by 8:45 am. Our first stop along the Denali Highway was Susitna River Lodge in a classic outdoors setting for it’s type of tourist destination. Susitna River Lodge offered hunting, sightseeing, fishing; float planes, land planes, helicopters, boats. Philip made photographs. We were impressed by the Susitna River, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The Susitna River ran brim full and filled its grassy banks. We were filled as well, looking up river at a wall of snowy peaks. Spruce grew above horizontal tundra green and the sky sunny. Some lands of the middle ground were in dark cloud shadow. Philip made photographs at the bridge and then further on with the lake or backwater of the river in the foreground and pleated, close mountain in the background at mile 88.5. Philip also took a picture of the tundra, Monahan Flat and West Fork Glacier at the high point on the shoulder of the road above the river where we stopped for lunch. Philip walked back the way we came with his Hasselblad 2 ¼ medium format camera for pictures of flowers and the view upstream toward the source of the Nenana River. David found the shoulder blade bone of some animal, an oil can and other assorted junk. Driving on, the road dropped down to an overlook of the Nenana River where Philip made more photographs. At Mile 124, Philip made a 2 ¼ photo of cotton grass and a black stream on the left. At Mile 126, Philip stopped to make a 2 ¼ photo of the mountains across a small lake at the road edge. The mountain across the small lake was streaked with buff orange talus slopes. We turned off the highway toward Cantwell, Alaska and pulled over to buy a loaf of Wheatberry bread for $0.80, inquire about Denali Lakes and obtain directions. We headed out the section of new Route 3, Anchorage to Fairbanks road. Philip stopped several times for views from this road. It traverses the same broad open valley that the Alaska Railroad does. After we turned around at the FAA Housing site we saw the northbound Alaska Railroad train go by. Back on the Denali Highway, we again stopped along the Nenana River for pictures. I made honey cake while waiting. Then we looked for a dinner spot as we passed Carlo Creek. Not far beyond was a gravel track taking off from the main road and paralleling it. We pulled in and ate there. David and Philip went out after dinner and picked out numerous tracks they reported including moose, fox, a dog-type track, moose droppings, and a dead porcupine. David to bed. We drove in the Danali Lakes road a short distance beyond. We stopped and inquired of Mrs. Nancarrow for artist Bill Berry. “He is in the park sketching,” was all she said. We looked up photographer Charlie Ott when we got inside Denali National Park. He wasn’t home. We went to the Hotel and bought the new Washburn Guidebook, Nancarrow silkscreen notepaper, and a new copy of the Heller flower book to replace the one I ruined with water.

Continued in the next blog post in the series, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 19.”

Do you remember the most beautiful river or other outdoor setting you have ever seen? Did you make photographs of it?



  1. Richard Wong says:

    The most beautiful outdoor setting I’ve ever seen would probably be Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks in the Canadian Rockies. I was too young to photograph it myself (but my parents did) when I last went so I hope to soon.

  2. Hey Richard, From Dad’s and others’ photographs I’ve seen, the areas you mention are certainly in the running for most beautiful on Earth. These days more tropical locations are on my mind for some reason though. I’m visualizing Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. I’m thinking of past travels to Mexico, Southern Baja, my trip with my parents to the Caribbean. However, my most favorite of all time was probably that trip to Denali National Park: either the Camp Denali area or the Susitna River location my mother wrote about.

  3. Richard Wong says:

    I hear you David. I think it depends on your experiences growing up. For me, my early impressions of scenic landscapes were to go to Canada or California Central Coast because they were different than where I grew up and was accustomed to.

    Contrast that to where I grew up, a dust bowl, I have never really felt emotionally connected to desert / arid environments. Or hot weather for that matter. It’s just kind of boring to me.

  4. Thanks, Richard. I think we do tend to like places we visit when we are young. Places that have some kind of mystique for us, that are less ordinary than our own daily surroundings. However, in my case, because I traveled so much, and also because the area I grew up in was just as beautiful as any of the other destinations, I grew to like deserts as well as oceans and beaches, having traveled to them much, but I also grew to like places with mountains, big trees and many lakes and rivers like home and like Denali National Park, which was part of this trip that made such an impression on me. Camp Denali is a bit more open and looking across plains toward Mt. Denali, while the Susitna River valley is a closer variation to what I grew up with. There will be more on Camp Denali and what made it a magical place for me at age 5 turning 6, in future episodes of this series.

  5. You know that view of the Nenana River from the Denali Highway is right up there with one of the best views I have seen! It is fun reading the stories about an area I’m so familiar with and fond of.

  6. Hi Ron, I appreciate your input because of your home and photographic expertise in Alaska. I imagine you and my dad would have had much to talk about. It’s interesting to me that out of all the amazing scenery in Alaska, you also agree that the area mentioned in the blog post above is one of the most beautiful.

  7. Thanks David,

    It would have been a huge treat to have sat around the campfire and talked travel, Alaska and photography with your dad!

  8. Glad you returned to say that, Ron. I wish we could set up such a meeting somehow. It would be fun for me to sit in the firelight and just listen to the exchange.

  9. pj says:

    When I was about 14 or so I was on trip to Yellowstone with my parents during summer vacation. We went over Beartooth Pass on the Wyoming/Montana border, and it was one of the most powerful and stunning areas I’d ever seen. I think I knew right then and there that I would live in Montana someday.

    This is a superb photo of an obviously beautiful place. I enjoyed the post and love the photo.

  10. Hi PJ, I like that your discovery was at a young age with your parents like mine. I think parents get discouraged when kids don’t take to the outdoors immediately, or resist over an extended time. However, the message is to not give up. Our parents certainly didn’t, did they? I talked to a guy near the summit of Mt. Lassen one time who said that he used to have to drag his kids into the wilderness, but now they are grown and love it and are dragging their kids to get them out there. Somewhere along the line, nature will become a part of the child if introduced to it with persistence. That is what is necessary today with most propaganda and interference running the other direction. As for Beartooth Pass and the surrounding area, readers can see more pictures of it on your blog as I believe you’ve written about it there too, isn’t that right? Isn’t that where or near where your great photo of the pristine mountain lake is?

  11. pj says:

    Yeah, I’ve mentioned the Beartooth a couple of times, but I actually haven’t spent much time there or photographed it much.

    I was lucky indeed to grow up around wild country, and to have my parents take me on trips out west — Glacier, Yellowstone, Banff among others. It had a profound influence on the rest of my life.

  12. Hey PJ, glad you came back. Growing up on the proverbial “road less traveled” makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

  13. Greg Russell says:

    This is fantastic, David. Thanks for sharing all of your parents’ travelogues here.

    As far as the most beautiful outdoor scenes…hmmm. I gasped the first time I saw the Tetons, as well as Yosemite Valley. Both are somewhat cliché but for good reason. As far as rivers go…I do like the headwaters of the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado quite a bit.

  14. Hey Greg, that’s a great unusual one, the Animas River. Also, nothing wrong with being taken aback by the Tetons or Yosemite either. I remember the first time I visited Yosemite Valley on my own in adulthood during a summer off from college. I drove in too late at night to connect with my lodging. I went to sleep in my car in the parking lot at Camp Curry. I don’t know how I got away with it, except that there were only about 3-4 hours left until dawn. I woke up completely disoriented and couldn’t believe that I was looking straight up at Glacier Point. I couldn’t see how any cliff or mountain could be so tall as to loom over my car in the parking lot that way. It was amazing to me to find out that I wasn’t in some kind of strange dream, but that it was “real.”

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