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Animals of Denali photography and STORY by Dea & Brad Vogel

A photography team and their body of work

The photography team Dea and Brad Vogel have spent over 13 years photographing wildlife in Denali National Park and Preserve. In this issue’s photo essay, they share with readers some of the images and locations within the park where Denali’s favorite denizens reside.

Our photo collection in Denali spans more than a decade, with most images taken from mid-August to early September. A Professional Photographer Special Road Travel Permit allows us to drive the full length of the Park Road, providing us with over 92 miles of opportunities. We shoot mostly from the road, though we took a few shots during short hikes. With hours waiting and watching, we’ve learned that photographing in Denali is not always easy.And though we hike, we never hike in search of bears. First, safety is important, and bears move extremely fast. Second, the bears of Denali have such a short season to add weight before winter sets in; we don’t want to disturb them. Instead, we wait patiently for that two-second opportunity, often roadside, when a bear looks up from eating berries. Over the years, lynx have been very elusive, but one morning we were lucky to find two enjoying the sun on Polychrome Pass and had the opportunity to photograph them for an extended period. And as is often the case, a busload of visitors shared the special moment with us. Tourists also find wilderness within reach, with bears, caribou and Dall sheep foraging, grazing and climbing just off the road.

This ram was photographed on Polychrome Pass. They can also be found in Igloo Canyon.
This fox was photographed hunting for arctic ground squirrels. We often discovered them on Polychrome Pass and near Eielson Visitor Center.
[LEFT] The speed of this weasel, darting in and around rocks, enabled us to capture only a few frames before it disappeared. [BOTTOM] This sow brought her cubs close to the road near East Fork very late in the afternoon and very early in the evening. She was very protective, always watching for other bears in the area.
We have seen lynx in the park but usually only brief glimpses as they cross the road in early morning or late evening then disappear. The sightings are rare and almost always near Savage River, Igloo Canyon or Teklanika. We captured this image as we drove up Polychrome Pass very early one morning to photograph the sunrise on the Polychrome Mountains. We heard a strange catlike noise and discovered two lynx resting at Marmot Rock, grooming and playing with each other—a big highlight of our wildlife encounters in Denali
We have seen very few coyotes in the park. In recent years we have been lucky to find them hunting along the road near East Fork.
Bull caribou are often found between Savage River Checkpoint and Teklanika Campground.
We have often seen and photographed porcupines near park headquarters and along the first 14 miles of the Park Road, the only stretch of the road open to public travel.
Bull moose are often photographed within the first 14 miles of the Park Road where they congregate during rut.
Collared pika are small, rabbitlike creatures that typically inhabit rocky talus slopes above the treeline. They are very vocal and often heard before they are seen
A beautiful willow ptarmigan stands perched on a spruce tree.
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Alaska Magazine MMN
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photos by Dea & Brad Vogel

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