Unless you backpack in, the only way to venture past Mile 14 on the 92-mile Park Road is by converted school bus. (The NPS is a beautiful example of democracy in action—my Tundra Wilderness bus was packed with visitors carrying the latest camera equipment and all-weather gear alongside young families and retirees, among them an older gentleman wearing a sport coat!) The drivers do double-duty as naturalists and pull over for wildlife viewing. Along the way, the narrow unpaved road winds through varied ecosystems and past glorious landscapes. While Denali, the 20,237-foot monolith, is covered in clouds about two-thirds of the time, we were able to see it and it was a remarkably powerful sight. But the mountain was only one of the thrilling things along that road. We saw Dall sheep, mincing high on a hillside, and caribou trotting along a braided river. We drove through 200-year-old stands of black cedar trees stunted at sapling height by permafrost, and through cloud shadows sweeping across mountains and glacial valleys at a clip. I’ve never before taken a bus trip that I would describe as amazing or thrilling but honestly, if I’d had another eight hours, I would have taken it again the next day. Ann Shields traveled to Alaska and the Yukon with Holland America Line as part of AFAR’s partnership with the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more on Ann’s journey, visit the USTOA blog.