Q. What is the best place to find eagles in August and September? Also, is Denali Park open all year round? Thanks. -Robert.
A. Raptors, led by the bald eagle, of course, range throughout the state. We have a big one who roosts in our cottonwood trees beside the pretty creek that tumbles right by my kitchen door! (I know, Lucky Lady!) We see him nearly every day, swoop down and lift a trout from the stream. Sometimes he flies off with his prize. Other times, he sits on a limb in plain sight, tearing strips off the still, flopping, hapless fish! I always feel a bit sorry for the fish. Another thing of interest, if they fly off with a very big fish, they carry it beneath them, not crosswise, but lengthwise beneath them. This is for a very good reason. If the fish were carried crosswise, another eagle might see what they have and dive down to take it away. Held like a ‘torpedo’ beneath them, their supper is hidden from the view of another hungry eagle. Sounds like rational thinking at work here to me!
There are lots of places to view eagles in the fall as they hang out along rivers and streams, feasting on the spawning salmon. (along with hungry bears loading up for their long hibernation.) A really good place to view them though is along the Chilkat River near Haines, AK. Located there is the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, which is a meeting place for 3,000 plus eagles who assemble there. I can’t help but wonder how word gets out to the eagles to meet there! Between October and February you will find the largest gathering of eagles of anywhere in the world.
Now to your question about Denali Park. no, it is not open all year round. At least not the main body of the park. I think possibly the lodges, cafes, etc. along the highway or just outside the main gate may be open. But the main part of the park is closed from October first thru end of April. Things really pick up from June first thru mid September. We have a couple friends who work there and they report for work mid May, to get things ready for tourists and then the last part of September, they are working closing things back up for the winter. They love their jobs though as they get to meet wonderful people from all over the world.
A good # at the park to call for information would be Visitor Access Center at (907) 683-1266. The website to look up is www.nps.gov/dena Thanks for writing! -BJ