Fall starts early in the Denali National Park area and usually by the end of August there are obvious signs of the season change; a steady drop in temperature, color changes and changes in animal behavior and appearance. Mating season is approaching for moose and caribou. The male moose congregate for a time in foraging activity, and, in Denali National Park, there is a corridor where these animals can frequently be viewed during this time of year. The male moose are quite large, and with their winter coats and large antlers, they look even bigger. It is surprising to see them living so harmoniously together. The grizzly bears are focused on gaining weight to sustain them through about 6 months of hibernation, so they are grazing through most of the day, with blueberry being a main dietary source.
Color changes are spectacular. The common deciduous trees, cottonwood, willow, aspen and birch are changing colors, with wonderful shades of yellow, orange and a touch of red. Closer to the ground, blueberry, dwarf dogwood, fireweed and bunchberry are changing color, creating a beautiful mat of purplish-red color. This is mixed with the bright red of the cranberries, which are not quite ready for harvesting. The locals say it takes some freezing weather for this berry to ripen
The temperature is gradually and steadily cooling and, in the mornings, a dusting of snow can frequently be seen on the higher mountain tops. This is called ” termination dust,” as it signals the end of the summer season. As the days pass, the snow coverage gradually progresses down the side of the mountains and hills, reminding those of us who are seasonal residents that it is time to think about leaving.
Autumn is a wonderful time for visiting Alaska. The weather is brisk, the animals are beautiful in their new winter coats and head gear, and the colors are spectacular. Additionally, all the attractions are still operating usually until the middle of September, so a person could take a Denali National Park Bus shuttle, take an ATV or rafting trip and rent an RV and have the convenience of full-service RV parks, such as Cantwell RV Park!!