Caribou Herd, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska

caribou herd crossing frozen lake, wrangell st. elias national park, alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a photo of part of a small herd of caribou I ran across in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park a few days ago. I visited the north side of the park briefly, before having to head to Anchorage for a week. The north side of the park is so different to the middle and southern side I’ve spent most of the winter on so far (I say ‘winter so far’ because we’re currently in the middle of a predicted 2′ dumping of snow – which, in my book, means winter isn’t over).

My trip up to the northside, coming to the park from Nabesna Rd, has me all fired up already to spend some more time there both this summer and the fall and winter .. I think wildlife are more prevalent on the northside – I saw moose and caribou on one afternoon .. lots of caribou, probably over 300 in a few hours, scattered along the way in bands of between 20 and 50.

They’re super skittish though, and difficult to photograph.

I spent the better part of an afternoon trying to get close enough for some decent photos, with little luck. This band I found out on a still ice-covered lake, and with a little patience (on my part) and a lot of luck (on my part) and much tolerance (on their part) I managed a few photos. The light was awesome.

The bull caribou are all still in the early stages of growing their antlers for the coming summer/fall, so no impressive racks on them at the moment, but it was interesting to see them in their winter coats, their coloring is markedly different to the summer coat, which is darker and less monochromatic.

Some of the calves were still pretty small for yearlings, by my reckoning, though I guess the caribou have a better idea than I might at to how large they should be after one year.

I figure the cows will be dropping calves reasonably soon, sometime this coming month I expect.

I’ll be in Anchorage for a week before heading back east, probably down to Cordova, or maybe back up to the Nabesna Road and exploring some of that area a little further. If this darned snow lets up. πŸ™‚

OK – so here’s another trivia question. Lots of people have asked me, over the years, about the name of the website, Skolai Images. Obviously, it’s named after a super, super cool place in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, called ‘Skolai Pass’. So what’s the name ‘Skolai’ about and why is the area named ‘Skolai’?



2 thoughts on “Caribou Herd, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska

  1. Sergei

    Skolai Pass was named by U. S. Army Lt. Frederick Schwatka for Copper River Ahtna Chief Nicolai, or β€œSkolai”, as he was known to the upper Tanana River, any Russian child knows that

  2. Carl Donohue

    Hey Sergei,

    Well, maybe not ‘any’ Russian child .. but certainly ones who are clever enough to use ‘Google’ and browse the NPS Wrangell St. Elias website. πŸ™‚ But, some more details please. Why did the Upper Tanana River Indians call Chief Nicolai, ‘Skolai’?

    By the way, cheating will cost you 5 hershey bars on each of your trips this summer. πŸ™‚



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