I am so glad I spent several days in Denali; I loved every one of them. And I encountered other travelers–at the park, at the hostels, on the roads–who eked out only one day for Denali in their Alaskan itineraries, and reported their disappointment over not getting to see everything they wanted to see, especially in regard to wildlife. Well, the thing is: All these animals I saw didn’t, uh, you know, like pop up to meet me in a five-hour time span. I spent day after day in the park, from the moment I got up and drove the 13 miles north from the hostel, to 10 or 11 at night (making the most of that evening light!), exploring the park on foot, and the rest by bus or in road drives up to Savage River. And, honestly, I could have spent another week in Denali, or maybe two–I never once got bored with my explorations–but there were other places in my plans that beckoned. Still, it was seriously hard to tear myself away and put the park in my rearview mirror. I loved this place. And, sure, you can see mountains and moose and spruce trees and flowers in many parts of Alaska, but I was feverishly drawn to the wildness of Denali, its purity, its intact plant communities, untouched by non-native exotics. As far as national parks go, it feels truly natural–a place where you can still enjoy “mountains without handrails,”as conservationist writer Joseph Sax depicted. Sure, there’s a road there–and I realize that I took full advantage of it, in all my modern-day style–but Denali, to me, felt like a truly wild place. And I hope it always stays that way.