Sable Pass - Look For Bears, Wolves & Caribou: Mile 39.05 Denali Park Rd

The section of country on either side of the Sable Pass, mile 37-43 to be exact, is the only permanently closed area for wildlife within the park. Shuttle bus riders can get off the bus to snap photos of the expansive scenery, but leaving the road surface isn't allowed for five miles. Absolutely no hiking is allowed on the tundra here. Because of this, Sable Pass is a wildlife hotspot. This is critical grizzly bear country and you may want to take a closer look at the wooden Sable Pass sign. It has usually been chewed on and if its your lucky day, the “chewer”—a grizzly bear—will actually be there!

On Sable Pass, as with other passes along the road, the slope on the right-hand side of the bus is south facing, so vegetation there greens up early in the season. It’s also a prime spot for over-wintered berries. Consequently, you’re more likely to see bears on this side of the road early in the season.

The terrain on the left side of the bus faces north and doesn’t get as much sunlight, so snow melts later and new vegetation, which bears like to eat, doesn’t grow until later in the summer. So that would be the place to look for bears on later season trips. By the time the last of the snow melts on this side of the road, it is snowing again already.
When new berries ripen in the fall on south facing slopes, that’s where the bears go.

A broad expanse of landscape opens up to the south as you come down the other side of Sable Pass and Denali (Mt. McKinley) comes into view again, about 55 miles away.

Getting There

Mile 39.05 Denali Park Rd
Denali Park, AK
Driving Directions