Wonder Lake is the last stop on the 95-mile Denali Park Road. You have to take the bus out there, because that is the only means of travel in the park. The ride is totally worth it, but it does take 4-5 hours. If that sounds boring then let me remind you that your time will be spent with your eyes glued on the magnificent scenery looking for bears, wolves, Dall sheep, moose, caribou and the elusive lynx.
Wonder Lake is the most sought after place to camp in the park and is well known by park visitors, especially campers. Even though it was drizzling it was also the place that we decided to get into the water. One of the goals of our trip is to get into a body of water in each National Park. Wonder Lake caught our interest in Denali, because it was really the only one that made sense.
While we were getting ready to set up our tents we noticed a sign near one of the restrooms that talked about Wonder Lake and Ansel Adams. Wonder Lake provides an incredible view of ‘The High One’, Mount McKinley, or Denali (whatever you would like to call it).
As it provides one of the best views of the mountain you can bet that the National Park’s greatest photographer was there. The story goes that Ansel and his son hiked up behind Wonder Lake waiting for the perfect shot of the moon over The High One. They showed up at midnight and waited for the lighting and the positioning to line up. Ansel’s son carried a citronella candle to ward off mosquitoes and they waited for over an hour until after 1am when it all lined up and they got the shot.
Our view of The High One was nothing like Ansel Adam’s view. It was foggy and we couldn’t see much of anything. There are two types of campsites at Wonder Lake. Those that give a view of the mountain and those that sucks. Being that we got our permit to camp there at the last minute we got one of the ones that sucks. Sometimes I wonder how this happens. When they are creating the campgrounds for cars I understand the concept and necessity to make a loop so that people can drive in and around. But when you are making a campground for backpackers why would you not put them all in a place where they can get the best view around, come on Denali campground designers. You can do better!