Toklat River Stop on Denali NP bus

Old May 4th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Toklat River Stop on Denali NP bus

We are planning on booking a shuttle bus tour into Denali NP. Since we are 2 families traveling with 5 kids ages 8-14, we didn't want to take too long of a bus ride (i.e., Wonder Lake), but thought that Toklat might be a good halfway point.

Has anyone done this stop? About how long does it take to get there? Can you get off the shuttle bus before you get to Toklat to take a break? What is the hiking like once you get there?

We plan on spending the full day on this bus tour. Does that make sense? Or will we have more time to do something else? Just trying to get a feel of how to spend our 1 full day in DNP.

Any input would be appreciated.


jillg is offline  
Old May 5th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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You have about 30 mins. at the Toklat stop before the bus turns back about 3 -3 1/2 hours. But frankly, going to Fish Creek offers more, since those 10 miles in between Toklat and Fish Creek is big bear habiatat. Fish Creek also has a temp "visitor center". Rest stops are about every 90 minutes. BUT you will be better off, staying with the same bus all the way out, then make your "stops" on the way back. Reason is, if you want to continue INTO the park, you will have to get on another Toklat bus, on the way out, you can get on any bus.

Be advised there are NO hiking trails, you just walk about where you wish. When done just return to the road.

There probably will also be ranger programs at the visitor center going on, check the posted schedule. Consider a dog sled demo. Savage River shuttle bus- FREE, also has ranger programs.

Be CERTAIN, to take triple the amount of batteries, games, DVS's with headphones that you think you will need.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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About how long does it take to get there?

I think the Toklat bus was around 5 hours round-trip (this info should be on the web site), the Eielson bus 8 hours (Eielson is the old visitor center, now being re-built so this option is probably not available) and Wonder Lake was a butt-numbing 12 hour round trip.

Can you get off the shuttle bus before you get to Toklat to take a break?

15 minute bathroom stop at Teklinika (spelling suspect), which is around mile 32 or so.

What is the hiking like once you get there?

It's a braided river channel, with gravel for walking but many small threads of the stream making it hard to keep from getting wet. The streams are shallow so if you have decent boots you can do it though. You can hike into the brush but this area is full of bears so that's not advised.

If you want to hike a bit then you can get off the bus anywhere you wish (with a couple of exceptions, like near animal sightings) and walk. I would advise getting off at the top of a pass (as opposed to a river bottom like Toklat) and hiking down the road or off on the tundra because you can see more and the toothy critters can see you further off, but this is better further into the park, which is why Queen advised going a bit further in ... I think if you sign up for the next stop past Toklat you can for example get off at beautiful Polychrome Pass and hike up high in open tundra, which is what I'd advise.

If just going to Toklat I'd ride all the way in and ask the driver to let me off at the top of Sable Pass on the drive back, this is high and beautiful but you are not allowed to hike off the road at Sable Pass. This is great bear and sheep country.

With so many people (nine if four parents are along) you may have trouble finding a bus with space for all of you on the way back, so be prepared to split up. Usually there is a bus every 15 minutes or so, so eventually you'll find seats.

Couple of other things ... bring your own food and water ... bring raingear, many more people die in Alaska from exposure than from bears ... at certain times the bugs are terrible so bring bug dope ... hike together for protection from the bears, especially the younger hikers.

Here's a photo of a wolf kill I took at the East Fork of the Toklat 2 years ago showing the braided river ... a few hours later three grizzlies claimed this kill, so be careful hiking here.
http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/D3882_wolf.jpg

Here's a typical grizzly photo, shot higher up the same day ... http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/T9D4036_grizz.jpg ... I've spent weeks hiking and bike riding in there, often alone, and so long as you make noise and don't surprise a bear you'll be OK, but if you stumble on one sleeping you could get mauled a bit.

Bill




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Old May 5th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Budget Queen and Bill:

Thanks for the advice.

Do you think it would be better to stay closer to the entrance (or as far as our car can go) and just do some hiking near there...or is it definitely worth it to take the long drive further in to Fish Creek? Again, I'm just thinking about the patience level of the kids.

Also, nice line about getting mauled "a bit!" Unbelievable photos.

Jill
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Old May 5th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Jill, I think it's most definitely better to ride the shuttle deep into the park at least one day. Especially if the mountain is "out" since the views of McKinley are much better the further in the park you go.

I made a mistake in my post, if you go to Toklat you will pass Polychrome Pass so I would recommend doing that drive (or one a bit further in) and on the return trip getting off at Poly and hiking here instead of at Sable. This is much better hiking than in the Toklat river channel, for several reasons (will see more since you're up high, fewer bugs, won't get your feet wet, safer with the bears).

Don't worry about the bears if you are hiking in a big group, I think there has never been an attack on a hiking group with more than four people in it, and never a fatal attack in Denali even with the odd unlucky solo or duo hikers (who don't make enough noise to warn the bears) who got gnawed on.

I would definitely advise doing the shuttle bus trip!

Queen, where is Fish Creek? I haven't been to the park since 2004 and Eielson was the stop after Toklat (I realize it's being torn down and rebuilt now) ... is Fish Creek near Highway Pass or the Stony Hill overlook?

Bill
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Old May 9th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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Fish Creek is mile 63, Eielson is 66.
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