Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge.

Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into life in Denali: wildlife sightings, Denali National Park issues, recipes from our kitchens, and insights into the guest experience at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.



A Hot and Dry Summer

June 21, 2015

Our season here at the lodges in Denali National Park has been in full swing for about three weeks.  The amount of sunlight is almost at its summer maximum, almost 21 hours of daylight, and summer is at full speed.  The flowers have been blooming early this season, coloring the tundra in sweeps of yellow Arnica, pink Moss Campion,  and blue Forget-Me-Nots.  Temperatures even soared into the 80’s the past several days, making this an unusually warm spring, following a mild winter.

The simple pleasures of summer have not been lost to us, however.  Swimming dips in Moose Creek or Nugget Pond, a bottle of iced tea nestled in your sack lunch, and the chance to lay out on the tundra for lunch without bundling up have been welcome summer delights.  Not every piece of the warm weather has been easy, however.  Several fires currently burn across the state, one, the Sockeye Fire, even closed the George Parks Highway for a spell, causing several of our guests to need to reroute and re-plan their arrivals. Last year we experienced heavy rains in a short period of time, which washed out part of the Denali Park Road.  Each season brings its challenge!

Of course, the warm weather is not likely to continue without end.  Only two weeks ago we had a cold snap come through that deposited 6” of snow at the Eielson Visitor Center and other areas of the Park over 3,000 feet in elevation.  Two days later, the temperatures soared into the 70’s. On one of my hikes this season we started out in t-shirts and shorts, only to be quickly pelted by a small hailstorm midway through the day.

Overall, we would classify this season as unusually warm. The idea of “normal” weather is perhaps an anomaly in Denali, regardless. As previously mentioned, we are only 30 miles away from the largest mountain in North America, so unpredictable is the typical forecast for the day!  This warm spell has begun to cause us to bite our nails a bit, however.  The tundra is very dry, and I worry about the amount of available water for the root systems of our vegetation, for the insect life, and for birds.

Last evening, thunder cracked across the sky above the mountain range, a few bolts of lighting struck across the tundra, and localized rain squalls pelted parts of the Denali Park Road.  CDNFL staff camping on Turtle Hill even witnessed lightning ignite a small tundra fire to our west. Wildfire smoke from the western and southern parts of the state has rolled into our area, creating a bit of a hazy view looking out toward Denali.

We look forward to some more rain spells to alleviate these dry, hot conditions.  Until then, we will continue to have fun dunking ourselves in Nugget Pond and Moose Creek to cool off from the warmth.

Back to blog