The scale and sheer vastness of Denali NP is beyond words and at first visit is hard to grasp, even when it’s staring you in the face. After our little hike in the Polychrome Pass area we caught the shuttle to Toklat which was the furthest the shuttles were running at this time; I believe the whole road opened on June 1, the day after we left Denali NP.
As we rode the shuttle towards Toklat I was in awe at the landscape that we had seen thus far a figured it couldn’t get any bigger; I was wrong. As the shuttle swung around a curve a whole new landscape opened up to us unlike anything we had seen in the past 50 or so miles. Divide Mountain loomed high over the landscape and the braided river below it. This braided river was enormous, nothing like we have in the sierra. One braided river is big, but when you add another one of equal size it just gets ridiculously big. Divide Mountain, faithful to its name, divides two large braided rivers/valleys that merge into one at Toklat.
There’s a little ranger station (large canvas dome structure) with bookstore and displays along with restrooms. Our shuttle bus driver indicated he’d be there for about 20 minutes then head out. Fortunately there were two more shuttles due in to Toklat; it was an easy decision to make we were staying to catch the next shuttle out. With about an hour to kill we hefted our gear and headed towards the river and Divide Mountain.
We spent the next hour photographing around the river and shooting Divide Mountain. We were fortunate for the clouds and the solitude. To give some indication of size, Divide Mountain’s summit is 5195 ft. The river’s elevation there at Toklat is approximately 3000 ft.