Denali & Alaska: Part Seven (cute, killer squirrels?)

I guess the animal we saw the most of was the red squirrel. Cute, cheeky, noisy and (apparently) horrible little rabbit killers!

One way to spend a few hours in Denali is to visit the kennels. Here, you will meet the sled dogs that allow rangers to navigate the park during winter. These huskies are an important part of the Denali way of life, as no motorised transport is permitted in the park and, with 6 million acres to patrol, going on foot just wouldn’t cut it!

Denali sled dog
Denali sled dog

There is a demonstration of the team at work, access to the shed where all the gear is kept and, best of all, you can pat the dogs as they hang out. If you are after more involvement, there is a volunteer program that allows you to work closely with the dogs. This is only in winter, only has two spots and is usually filled by return visitors, though. For those wanting to help out, you can even adopt “retired” dogs!

One of the older sled dogs
One of the older sled dogs

I guess the animal we saw the most of was the red squirrel. Cute, cheeky, noisy and (apparently) horrible little rabbit killers! During one of the many ranger talks we went to, we were told about how these adorable little rodents would enter the burrows of the rabbits in the park and eat the entire brood of little baby bunnies! Vicious! We still thought they were endlessly fascinating.

Red squirrel in Denali carrying a spruce cone
Red squirrel in Denali carrying a spruce cone
Cute squirrel on table
Cute squirrel on table
Naughty squirrel on table
Naughty squirrel on table
Hide and seek, squirrel style
Hide and seek, squirrel style
Hungry squirrel
Hungry squirrel

These little arctic ground squirrels were hiding out. If I remember correctly, there was a large predator looming nearby – the camera toting kind! The one after was busily trying to chomp into the undercarriage of the car next to us.

Arctic ground squirrels, waiting for the all clear
Arctic ground squirrels, waiting for the all clear
Car-eating arctic ground squirrel
Car-eating arctic ground squirrel

 

This next critter was apparently one lazy animal. Asleep all winter, they wake up for a few months of eating and loving, interspersed with many hours of lying in the sun, before heading back underground for the winter again. We also got into trouble (well, Ruth did) for whistling at one. Apparently, “We don’t interact with the wildlife in Denali.”

Hoary marmot - the laziest guy in Denali
Hoary marmot – the laziest guy in Denali

Let us leave off with some more Denali wilderness.

Denali NP
Denali NP
Hiking along Savage River, Denali NP
Hiking along Savage River, Denali NP
Ruth looking out over the wild Denali landscape
Ruth looking out over the wild Denali landscape
Birch trees near Riley Creek, Denali NP
Birch trees near Riley Creek, Denali NP

 

Fireweed and river
Fireweed and river

I am sure there are plenty more things I could say about Denali but, for now, I think this will do. The next post will try to wrap up in Alaska, before heading I to Sequoia NP – but you never know when I’ll find something else to share about this great state.

Wes

 

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4 thoughts on “Denali & Alaska: Part Seven (cute, killer squirrels?)

    1. When the ranger told us, we were rather shocked. But, I guess, it isn’t all that surprising when you consider how aggressive they are when defending their territory!

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