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Unbridled Cheer & Awestruck Reflection: Visiting Alaska

Written by Willie Karidis
    Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Unbridled Cheer & Awestruck Reflection: Visiting Alaska

It was the kind of adventure that inspired unbridled cheers as well as quite moments of awestruck reflection. A week-long trip in Alaska has that effect on people.

The Urban Ecology Center led its second Great Alaska Adventure this past September and this year we’re doing it again. The camaraderie displayed by our participants was truly inspiring and we looked forward to each day and savored moments wishing they would never end.

“It has been beyond my expectations and it’s a reality check of what really counts in life, it’s beyond words.”

- Mark, 2013 participant

We visited Denali National Park during peak fall colors and each morning we woke to discover a new explosion of vibrant change displayed in the trees and tundra. The tapestry of reds, oranges, yellows, purples and greens juxtaposed across a blue sky of billowy cumulus clouds or seen through drenching rain with shafts of heavenly light inspired an appreciation for life.

Denali is a pretty magical place.

alaska landscape
The bright colors and blue sky of Denali. Photo: Willie Karidis

At over 6 million acres the park is larger than the state of Massachusetts and is home to a variety of charismatic megafauna including dall sheep, wolves, caribou, moose and grizzly bears.

alaska bears
A grizzly bear sow and her cubs walking past the bus on Denali Park Road. Photo: Willie Karidis

A ride through Denali Park on one of the shuttle buses will yield surprises around every corner. If you are a new visitor who has never had the opportunity to view Denali’s gifts, the experience can be life changing.

My wife Christine and I find it a humbling experience to walk in Denali’s backyard. Our roots run deep here and our daily interactions with old friends and the opportunity to introduce our Urban Ecology Center guests to them is a precious gift.

alaska shuttle
The Urban Ecology Center group on the Denali Park bus, enjoying the view over Polychrome Pass. Photo: Willie Karidis

Want to Join Us in 2014?

Have you thought about exploring Alaska yourself? The Urban Ecology Center is offering another Alaskan adventure this September, from the 4th through the 13th. A trip to Alaska with the Urban Ecology Center will give you the opportunity to see wilderness up close and personal.

Join us on March 4 or March 19 at our Riverside Park branch at 7pm for a trip orientation, slideshow, and to sign up. If you have any questions you may email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis was born and raised in Milwaukee then took off for Denali National Park, Alaska, spending 25 years enjoying the wilderness of the Big Country. Gold mining in the bush, roofing in the Aleutian Islands and discovering the furthest inland whale in North American history were adventurous days. Working as the Executive Director of the Denali Education Center for 16 years was a time of wonderful exploration. 

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