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August 03, 2016

Chena Hot Springs to Denali National Park

Unlike many visitors to Chena Hot Springs, our destinaltion was not to bask in their warm waters, but to shiver in their Ice Museum … 120 miles RT out of our way.  We were NOT disappointed!
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It has rained every day but one since we entered Alaska – the day we saw Denali!, but today it is in torrents, TORRENTS!  We’ve done all the Fairbanks indoor activities, including two movies and the thought of an Ice Museum just hokey enough to captivate our interest.  The road up to Chena Hot Springs  starts off pretty bad, but improves just about the time we were ready to turn back.

There is indeed a lot to do at Chena Hot Springs,

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but for us it is the ice.  And wearing the provided heavy jacket is a good idea.
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The artists are a team that together have won 14 world championships and their experience shows in this permanent display of their designs.  The is no way my skills nor equipment can display the elegance of the transparent work and unique lighting.
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Take a seat at the bar to enjoy the house cocktail – $15 all you can drink and keep the glass – also make of ice ...
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We had hoped (and really could have) stayed at one of the many campsites up in the hills.  But the downpour continues and I’m not willing to get wet and colder (it’s 24F inside the museum!) to pull out the leveling blocks.  I’m sure this will be my second regret of the trip, altho it seemed right at the time.

Another night at the Walmart Camping lot, again taking advantage of Lowe’s WiFi.  Another chance to stock up and gas up before heading toward the park.  Note that there is NO diesel available in Denali, top up as needed where it is available.

Lots of construction at the approach to Nenana, AK.  In a way it was nice as the long narrow bridge was one lane!  Nenana is home to a railroad musem – closed during our visit, and the famous Tripod!  Folks bet on when the river will thaw and the tripod trapped in the ice will move enough to stop the clock.  Yes we both have a bet on next years thawing of the river.
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Like our prairie homes seen in the mid-west sod roofs are common here.
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Bus 142 is the infamous Into the Wild bus.  The original bus remains into-the-wild along the remote stretches of the Savage River, but 49th State Brewing has the replica used in the movie.  And some good beer brewed onsite.
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The bus is a movie set replica of the original with the addition of entries from the journal Alex kept.
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Inside we found some good food, brew in a eclectic decorated bar/diner.IMG_4898 (640x464)IMG_4899 (640x480)
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We chose to stop early at Denali RV Park with it’s oh-so tiny sites, but under fair skies and the Antler Creek Trail to explore.  I can say the park offers the best free WiFi we have had since a bomb threat caused the evacuation of Walmart in Whitehorse!  It is good enough for Fran to catch up on Downton Abbey, and me to get some work done.
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At last a sunny morning as we explore Antler Creek in the cold, but under a few hours of morning sun - SUN!
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The village of Denali is just a service village offering souvenirs, cheap eats and outside the park adventures for the tourists. 
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After checking into our “B” site at Riley Creek Campground we rode our bikes back to town.  We booked a guided outing with Denali ATV and wandered the shops.  Why ATV outside the park and not a tour within?  The Park Road is in awful condition as the maintenance crews repairs and resurfaces.  The buseswe have seen are covered in mud, and neither Fran nor I want to sit for 8 hours.

Nex up Denali and beyond …

campgrounds:
Walmart Campinglot Fairbank
Again at the Lowe’s side of the lot for WiFi and less traffic.  Not a bad place to overnight with all the big anchor stores within walking distance

Denali RV Park – 10 miles north of Denali Nationa Park
Best WiFi in several weeks!  Tiny sites laundry $3/3 and $ showers.  Stop for the Wifi if needed else move on.  Antler Creek hiking trail oriig inatare next to office

Riley Campground Denali National Park
There are 3 loops with a variety of sites in each; Bear Loop next to the Mercantile ‘might’ be able to reach Wifi with a booster.  Easy access to laundry $1.75/2.00 and showers $4.50.  Wolf Loop is lame, between Bear and Caribou.  We chose Caribou as it is the farthest from the activity at the Mercentile and the only loop where the outside site do not back up on other activity.
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