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Travel with Teams: Shoulder Season Outdoor Recreation

Susy Alkaitis - October 13, 2020

In Leave No Trace’s Covid-19 Guidelines for Getting Outside, we recommend avoiding popular outdoor places and/or times of highest use. Shoulder seasons offer a great opportunity to make the most of outdoor recreation, without the crowds. 

We recently took a trip to Byers Lake in Denali State Park in Alaska, which is typically busy with anglers, campers, paddlers, hikers and all outdoor enthusiasts during the summer. But when we visited the area at the end of September, we didn’t see a single person.

Ready to come on our off-season adventure? Let’s start from the beginning. 

The front country campground at Byers Lake had already closed by the time of our visit, but we ventured into the backcountry, of course checking all the informative boards before heading out. 

The Center acknowledges that what while we currently call this area Denali State Park, it is the traditional territory of Dena’ina Land, belonging to Alaska Native Athabaskan.


There may have not been any people, but there were plenty of signs of bears. 

Bears love these edible (but bitter) red berries!

Bear poop!!! Proof that they love the soap berries!

Once at camp, we set up our tent and enjoyed the mountain and lake views. Years ago, the surrounding glaciers carved out the valley, as well as Byers Lake. Although it is 166 feet deep, motor boats are not allowed, but fishing enthusiasts come for the burbot and trout. Bird watchers come for the loons and trumpeter swans. And anyone comes for the views. As the crow flies, Denali sits just 35 miles away.

After enjoying a delicious dehydrated meal, we properly stored the food in anticipation for bear activity during the night.

We are so lucky to have a picnic table at a backcountry site!

We did not hear any bears traipsing through camp during the night, but wanna know what we did hear? Trumpeter Swans honking to each other for several hours. 

The acoustic communication of Trumpeter Swans sound like … you guessed it … trumpets.

Although we enjoyed the last of the yellow and red fall colors, the October north winds have now wiped most of the trees and shrubs bare. Soon, the lake will freeze over and the snow could be 7 feet deep for a whole different adventure … would you like to see us return for a winter adventure????

That’s Denali, nearly 40 miles away across Byers Lake.

By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about the important work of our mobile education teams.  Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Thule, Fjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

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