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Denali National Park, which used to be called Mount McKinley National Park prior to 1980, is six million acres of Alaskan tundra and mountains. Despite the common belief that Alaska is nothing more than a dark, cold wasteland, most days in the summer months are full of sun and warmth. My summer adventure was filled with wildlife viewing, fishing, and backcountry camping. This all seemed so alluring to me, an opportunity to fulfill fantasies of the great outdoors. Upon arriving in Denali National Park, a required wildlife and wilderness course offered through the park was mandatory. Park rangers discussed the abundance of large animals, like bears, moose, caribou, and wolves which walk the park. It was explained to let us know that here .".. we are just visitors among animals, and to understand this for our own safety." I did get a chance to see all of these animals and many more on multiple occasions, all from safe distances. One of the most memorable experiences was the Kenai Fjords Wildlife and Glacier Park. The wildlife viewing included sea otters, sea lions, humpbacks, grays, and orca whales. Dressed in their summer colors of black, orange, and yellow, puffins flew through the waters. Bald eagles that nest and feed along the coastline are also themes of many Alaskan myths and legends. Asthabaskan and Sitka folklore told of a large bird that would bring food in times of scarceness. Also, this was an opportunity for glacier viewing. The glaciers on the Prince William Sound are spectacular sights known as "rivers of ice." Some of the enormous glaciers hang from cliffs, like waterfalls suspended and frozen in time.
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