Alaska’s Savage River
Inside Denali National Park and Preserve
By Valerie Winans
A Writer for Readers of All Ages
On our days off, Dave and I were able to visit many other interesting places in Alaska. We traveled as far north as Barrow, and as far south as Homer. We flew over Mt. McKinley and took a fixed-wing flight that landed on a glacier. I rafted the Nenana with our daughter Natalie and her husband, Dan; and rode 4-wheelers in Dry Creek with our daughter Kym and her husband Luke. We fished for halibut off the shores of Homer with our son-in-law’s aunt and uncle (Tracy and Ron Palm) and walked the shoreline in Valdez.
Dave hunted for moose with our son-in-law Luke and his cousin Bob Pevan. We cruised the Chena River and panned for gold near Fairbanks. We especially liked hiking in areas near Denali Park, such as Stampede Road, Denali Highway, Healy, and Ferry, Alaska. In Ferry they have a solstice party every year – people line up to moon the train as it travels through on its way to Fairbanks. That’s an event hard to pass up.
While we loved our days-off adventures, we really loved the work. It gave us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and while we were making connections with others our connection as husband and wife grew stronger.
Our time spent in Alaska as hosts in 2008 and 2009 prompted return visits in 2010, 2011, and 2013. First cruising the inside passage in 2010, we returned with our trailer in 2011 to visit old friends and new places. We recently returned to Alaska with some of our family and shared the places we love the most with them. We most certainly have not exhausted all the possibilities for travel in Alaska, and we always feel the pull to return to that special place where we lived and worked for two seasons.
Savage River Campground has changed in some ways since we lived there, but the magic remains. While standing on the bluff overlooking the river and the valley below, primordial forces pull you back in time. Flashes of hunters dressed in skins and using atlatl’s to bring down a caribou, explorers following the contour of the land to get closer to the massive peak nearby, the whinny of horses, and the sounds of a touring car at camp. Is that coffee and bacon I smell?