Ready for Summer

Posted By: Sarah

May 31, 2013

Summer has been slow to come to Denali, but it has finally arrived! This week we have been enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures. The birds are singing, the snow is melting, and yes, mosquitoes are even out. There is a flurry of life all around. It's hard to believe just last weekend we had a winter storm warning and received nearly a foot of snow overnight! For nearly two months we have been expecting spring to be around the corner, but when it comes to weather in Alaska: expect the unexpected.

This winter was a long and strange one. From the first substantial snowfall in September to the May blizzard, here’s a short recap of the past eight months: 

  • September: Our last guests of the season saw the park blanketed in snow.
  • October: Time to ski to work!
  • January: One of the warmest on records with above freezing temperatures and rain.
  • April: Coldest on record, averaging 13 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • May*: We had one of the latest substantial snows on record and at the Denali park entrance nearly a foot of snow fell in mid-May.

With the late winter, our lodges have had to adapt to the unusual weather. The road leading into our lodges has seen a number of challenges. The park road crew encountered large 20-foot snow drifts, and, as the snow quickly melted: mud. We normally have several trips of both cargo and staff heading in and out of the lodges in May. This year, a number of those trips were delayed. For the first time in a number of years, the majority of our staff came by sprinter vans this week instead of the normal large bus (or “Happy Bus” as we like to call it, because our staff are happy to be returning!). 

On June 3rd, when we receive our first guests, we'll be ready. Regardless of the weather, the road conditions, the challenges posed by mother nature: Denali still beckons. The mountains stand tall and snow capped. The wildlife are having babies and feasting on the fresh spring growth. The birds soaring above are setting up territories and nesting. So come prepared with a sense of adventure and don't be afraid to get a little wet or muddy. After all, it's part of the Alaska experience.


*On May 14th, the ice finally broke up on the Nenana Ice Classic, an Alaskan lottery where you bet on when the ice will break on the Tanana River, breaking the 97-year record for the latest breakup. 


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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 the special sightings notebook, brush up on Denali National Park issues, read about our ongoing projects in sustainability, and maybe get a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchens. 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.