Denali National Park in the summer is a strange place. The sun sets at midnight in the north; the wilderness is invaded by busloads of marauding senior citizens; winter lasts until May; in August the recently green tundra turns a surreal red.
I love Denali, but summers can be taxing. I work long, sometimes stressful hours in the tourism industry and at times clouds can settle in and overstay their welcome like a freeloading family member. There are many great places to escape for some peace and quiet, but one special place for me is Otto Lake near Healy.
Otto Lake sits on the north side of the Outer Range, with no mountains between it and the setting northern sun. Wheras clouds usually cling to the peaks, it is usually clear on the plains meaning that Otto Lake may actually enjoy a sunset while other areas are covered by a bruised sky. These conditions also make it a breeding ground for rainbows as the slanting sun knifes through rainy skies.
Moreover, it is off the main tourist trail and it is never crowded with people. Otto lake is a haven for me.
Below are 10 of my favorite photos I’ve taken over the years, which I publish with some reluctance because others may get the idea to join me at this peaceful place. You are allowed to join me only if you participate in the poll at the bottom of the page and vote for your favorite.
1. Exploding Clouds over Otto Lake
This is a 2-minute exposure taken with a neutral density filter to blur the clouds. Do you like the effect? It feels like the clouds are exploding on the right.
2. Rainbow and Fishing Boat
I crawled through some trees to get a good reflection of the rainbow in the water and was surprised to find this fishing boat.
3. Aspens Ablaze
I took this photo in 2007 and haven’t seen the trees this yellow since.
4. Pondering the Sunset
A classic Otto Lake sunset. Not a bad place to sit and enjoy life. This was taken at 12:11am on June 22.
5. Otto Lake Panorama
I like how the sunlight catches the tops of the trees on the right and reflects in the water.
6. Red Canoe
Two people enjoy a perfect summer evening on the lake.
7. Otto Lake in the spring
The setting sun casts a red glow in the peaks above the lake.
Boulders protrude from the lake in the fall. During times of rain these are completely submerged.
9. Otto Lake Rainbow
Classic full rainbow over the lake. The low angle of the sun and propensity for clouds on the mountains leads to many rainbows.
10. Black and White Aspens
Aspen trees line the lakeside making is especially beautiful in the fall.
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