PuppyCam Returns To Denali National Park

PuppyCam lets us look in on the Denali sled dog pups
National Park Service

One of the annual rites of spring in Denali National Park is the welcoming of a new litter of sled dog pups to the official kennels there. This is soon followed by the launch of the park’s PuppyCam, which not only provides a daily dose of cute, but also allows us to watch the new pups as they begin to grow.

This year’s litter consists of three puppies born to a 6-year-old female named Sultana. She was also born and raised in the Denali kennels and has proven herself to be a strong lead dog and good mother over the years. The father is a dog named Typhoon who belongs to another kennel in nearby Eagle, Alaska. He is said to be an incredible lead dog as well, and some of his traits will hopefully be passed along to his new offspring. The pups, two males and one female, are named Munter, Prusik and Clove, and while they are just a month old today, they are beginning to display their own unique personalities.

Sled dogs are vitally important to operations at Denali NP. Without them the rangers would not be able to patrol the park during the long winter months when traveling by car can be very difficult, if not impossible. In order to keep their dog teams strong and replenished, each year one of the females is allowed to have a litter and the new pups are raised from birth to work as part of the park’s sled dog team. They might not look like it now, but in a few years, Munter, Prusik and Clove may well take their place as part of the proud tradition of the Denali sled dogs.

For now, we’ll just get to enjoy watching them romp around the kennel with mom. Check out the Denali PuppyCam here.

10 Big Travel Adventures For 2013

Travel adventures to Denali National Park in AlaskaThough 2013 may only be a few days old, it is never too early to start planning our travels for the year ahead. If you’re looking to put a healthy dose of adventure into your life this year, then Gadling is here to help. We have ten suggestions for big travel adventures that are sure to challenge and delight in the months ahead. These journeys are not for the faint of heart, however, as they will carry you to the very ends of the Earth in pursuit of a true once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

Backpack Through Denali National Park
Even in the 21st century, Alaska remains a wild and untamed frontier that is quite simply the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers alike. At the heart of that beautiful landscape is the incomparable Denali National Park, which is essentially 4.7 million acres filled with breathtaking scenery and spectacular wildlife. Alaska Alpine Adventures offers both seven- and ten-day backpacking excursions into the park, taking travelers across massive glaciers, high into mountain passes and along remote rivers that few people ever see. These trips are a backpacker’s dream come true in one of the last great wildernesses on the planet.

Explore Namibia’s Skeleton Coast
Located along Namibia‘s northern-shores, the Skeleton Coast is so named for the smashed hulls of ships that have washed up on its beaches. More than a thousand vessels have come to rest in those sands, giving the place an otherworldly feeling that is difficult to describe. Desolate, yet incredibly beautiful, the coast is home to an array of wildlife including sea lions, baboons, elephants and even rare black rhinos. The region is inaccessible by land, but several adventure travel companies, including Audley Travel, can arrange for safaris to this remote corner of the world. This is a destination for those who truly want to get away from it all, as it is seldom visited and far from the traditional travel crowd.Travel adventures in the Himalay with Sacred RidesMountain Bike The Himalayas
For decades, one of the staples of adventure travel has been trekking in the Himalaya. But for those looking for a completely different challenge amongst the tallest mountains on the planet, Sacred Rides has a fantastic alternative. The company, which specializes in unique mountain biking tours around the globe, gives travelers the chance to pedal their way through Nepal on a 12-day tour that is truly unique. This adventure takes riders into the remote Mustang Valley, through the shadows of both Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, and into the deepest mountain pass on the planet. Along the way, they’ll catch their breath in ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and rustic mountain villages.

Whitewater Raft The World
We’ve told you about Mountain Travel Sobek’s amazing new rafting excursion before, but it is so ambitious and grand it’s worth mentioning again. The company’s Six-Continent Whitewater Adventure is unlike any other, offering travelers the ability to experience Class III-IV rapids in California, Ecuador, Spain, Kenya, India and Australia on a single 25-day whirlwind journey. If you’re a fan of whitewater rafting, it simply doesn’t get any bigger or more adventurous than this.

Trek The Atlas Mountains
Already hiked through the Andes, Alps and Himalaya but still find your feet are itching for an adventure? Why not hit the trail in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco? Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains offer unexpectedly rugged routes that wind through verdant valleys, across sparsely populated alpine meadows and over snow-capped summits. Travelers are treated to breathtaking vistas and are welcomed by the friendly locals who inhabit the tiny villages that are sprinkled throughout the region. Explore World Wide offers a variety of travel options to the Atlas Range, including short climbs to the top of the 13,671-foot Toubkal Peak and extended 15-day treks across the region. Like all great hiking excursions, these options provide a good mix of scenic landscapes, physical challenges and unique cultural immersion opportunities.

Learn To Sea Kayak In Patagonia
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sea kayak, there are few places on the planet that are better suited to obtain those skills than Patagonia. The incredible wilderness located along the southernmost tip of South America is amongst the most beautiful settings on the planet and it remains an incredibly remote and wild place even today. And who better to train travelers in the art of sea kayaking than the folks at NOLS – the National Outdoor Leadership School. The organization leads a couple of trips to Chile each year where their guests gain paddling skills while traveling through lush rainforests, past towering granite spires and around pristine beaches. Paddlers will encounter plenty of wildlife along the way as well, including sea lions, giant otters, Andean condors and much more. This trip is a mix of equal parts adventure, learning and exploration that lets travelers go home with new skills and a host of wonderful memories.

Travel adventures on the SerengetiTake A Walking Safari Across The Serengeti
The Serengeti is one of those iconic destinations that every adventure traveler should have on their list of places to visit. With its dizzying array of wildlife, it is simply a magical place for animal lovers and naturalists alike. But those looking to experience the traditional safari in a unique way will want to check out the Walk on the Wildside itinerary from the team at Mountain Madness. This trip gets travelers out of the safari vehicle and actually puts them on the rolling savannah on foot. Specially trained guides will keep travelers safe as they spend their days hiking from one campsite to the next, all the while moving amongst vast herds of antelope, wildebeests and zebras, keeping their eyes peeled for elephants and lions along the way. At night they’ll actually camp right on the Serengeti, drifting off to sleep to the sounds of wild animals grazing just outside their tent.

Go Camping In Antarctica
For many, a visit to Antarctica is the ultimate adventure, as the frozen continent is the very definition of the “ends of the Earth.” While there are numerous travel companies that offer cruises to the bottom of the world, not many of them also offer the ability to actually go camping while there. But adventurous travelers looking for the ultimate cold weather camping experience will want to check out the itineraries available from Quark Expeditions. Their Crossing The Circle tour not only offers the option to go kayaking with whales and visit remote penguin colonies, but travelers can actually camp on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Just be sure to pack a warm sleeping bag and your long underwear.

Climb The Highest Peak In South America
Located in western Argentina, the 22,480-foot Aconcagua is the tallest peak in South America and the highest in the world outside of the Himalaya. Despite its extreme altitude, however, the mountain requires only a few rudimentary technical skills to climb, making it accessible to adventurers who enjoy venturing into thin air. The standard route to the top is essentially a challenging hike requiring about three weeks to complete, including acclimatization and shuttling gear to high camps. The climb also happens to serve as a great training ground for a potential attempt on Everest or other more demanding mountains. The Adventure Consultants are one of the best companies around when it comes to organizing an Aconcagua climb, offering multiple expeditions to the mountain each year and providing top notch service, skills training and guidance. This is the trip for those who have trekked to the summit of Kilimanjaro and are now looking for new high altitude challenge.

The Ultimate African Adventure – Cairo to Cape Town Overland
If you’re looking for the ultimate African experience, it’s tough to beat Intrepid Travel’s amazing Cairo to Cape Town overland adventure. As the name implies, your excursion will begin in Egypt‘s capital city and proceed south to the capital of South Africa. In between, travelers will pass through the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. The trip is an incredible 117 days in length and offers a mix of camping and rustic accommodations. The itinerary features stops in some of the continent’s more vibrant and exciting cities, while also providing plenty of opportunity to encounter Africa’s famous wildlife in a number of fantastic natural settings. If you’re a fan of African travel, it just doesn’t get any better than this. That is, provided you have four months of vacation time saved up.

Hopefully this list has provided you with some ideas for your own big adventures for 2013. Good luck in your travels in the year ahead and enjoy the road.

[Photo Credit: Kent Miller, Kraig Becker]

Denali National Park Introduces New Sled Dog Pups

Denali National Park Sled Dog PupsOne of the great annual traditions at Denali National Park is the arrival of a new litter of sled dog pups. The park, which is located in Alaska‘s spectacular and remote wilderness, maintains its own sled dog team for use in patrolling the region throughout the long winter months. Without these teams much of Denali would not be accessible for portions of the year, which makes these trusty canines an important part of the park service team.

In order to maintain a strong and healthy sled dog team the onsite kennel breeds a single female each year. This year that lucky mom is a dog named Sultana, who gave birth to three pups a few weeks back. The names of those new pups hasn’t been announced yet, but they have been introduced to the world via the kennel’s live webcam.

When breeding huskies to be a part of the Denali sled dog team, the kennel is looking for strong dogs with long legs that can easily break trail in deep snow. They also prefer compact paws that can resist the build-up of snow and ice, as well as thick coats and puffy tails to keep the dogs warm in the Alaskan winters. It is too early yet to know if these new pups will exhibit all of those traits but considering their parents were hand picked it is likely they’ll join the team sometime in the future.

For now, the pups will stay in the kennel, and on webcam, until they are old enough to start their training. That means that throughout the summer we’ll be able to watch them grow up before our very eyes. Stop back whenever you need a quick dose of cute.

[Photo courtesy Denali National Park Facebook Page]

Denali sled dog pups on national park’s webcam

Sled dog pups in Denali National Park are adorableDenali National Park, located in the stunning wilds of Alaska, is amongst the more remote and beautiful destinations in the entire U.S. park system. It is well known for its array of wildlife, a single 91-mile scenic road, and as the location of Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. What many visitors don’t know however, is that the park has its own dog kennel, which is home to a new litter of sled dog pups on an annual basis.

In late July, pups Tatum, Koven, and Carpe, named for peaks inside the park, joined the Denali pack after their mother, Pingo, gave birth to them. Since then, they have been growing very quickly, as pups are known to do, and after they turned three weeks old, the National Park Service installed a webcam into their kennel giving us the opportunity to peek in on them from time to time. To catch a glimpse of these energetic, feisty, and downright adorable pups, click here.

The Denali sled dogs are no doubt beautiful animals, and thousands of visitors stop by to see them each and every summer. But they also play a vitally important role in park operations during the very long Alaskan winters as well. Sled dog teams provide access to sections of the park that simply can’t be reached by any other means and without them rangers simply wouldn’t be able to patrol the park as effectively. It is for that reason that the park breeds a single litter each year, choosing two strong parents to bring new members into the pack.

Tatum, Koven, and Carpe won’t be pulling a sled anytime soon, but they will be on webcam until they are ready to join the adults and begin their training. Until then though, we’ll get to watch them grow up before our eyes.

[Photo courtesy NPS/Larissa Yocum]

National parks announce fee free days for 2011

2011 will feature more fee free days in America's national parksOver the past few years, it has become a tradition for the National Park Service to waive entry fees into the national parks several times a year. Those fee free days have become extremely popular with frugal travelers, who take advantage of the lack of an entry fee to enjoy some of the best natural wonders that America has to offer.

Earlier this month the Park Service announced their fee free days for 2011, giving us all a number of great opportunities to enjoy “America’s Best Idea” on the cheap. Several of those days, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday weekend, have already slipped by, but here are the remaining fee free days for the year.

• April 16-24 (National Park Week)

• June 21 (First day of summer)

• September 24 (Public Lands Day)

• November 11-13 (Veterans Day weekend)

In all, there are 14 days remaining in 2011 during which you can gain entry into more than 100 national parks for free. To see a complete list of which parks will be waiving their entry fee on those days click here.

Knowing the available dates well in advance allows us to plan ahead and select which parks we would most like to visit during the fee free days. For example, in April many of the parks are still on the cool side, but it is an excellent time to visit Big Bend in Texas, before it becomes too hot. The first day of summer seems the perfect excuse to drop into Denali, located in Alaska, while September is great for visiting Yellowstone. As for November, how about stopping by the Everglades for one last tropical escape before the winter snows start to fly across much of the country.

Whether they’re free or not, the national parks are fantastic destinations all year round. But it never hurts to get something for free!