Denali National Park & Preserve

In our collective consciousness, Alaska represents the concept of raw wilderness. But this untame perception can be both fascinating and daunting. For many travelers, exploring this American frontier in depth is a daunting task. Enter Denali National Park & ​​Preserve: A piece of land that is easily accessible without losing its ancient feel.

Activities in Denali National Park

Here you can spot grizzly bears, elk, caribou and even wolves from the comfort of your own bus. Alternatively, if you prefer independent exploration, you can hike six million acres of tundra, boreal forest and icy mountains (an area larger than Massachusetts). All of this is in the shadow of Denali, once known as Mount McKinley and hailed as a great figure by the native Athabaskans. Denali is the highest peak in North America, standing at 20,000 feet above sea level, and in a state where these adjectives are ubiquitous, it is rightly celebrated as a symbol of all that is great and wild.


Of course, the giant peak for which the park is named is a must-see. However, despite its lofty height, the mountain cannot be seen from the park entrance or from nearby campgrounds and hotels.On a clear day, it is first visible between Mile 9 and Mile 11 on Park Road.

What makes Denali one of the world’s most beautiful mountain heirs isn’t its visual presence within the park, but the independent rise of its masses. Denali starts at a base of just 2000 feet. That means you’ll be glued to over 18,000 feet of rock, ice and snow on a clear day. In contrast, Mount Everest rises just 12,000 feet above the foothills of the Tibetan Plateau, even when it comes to unforgettable views.

Any experienced alpinist can join an expedition to the summit or join his 25% Denali climbers on a guided climb. If you’re looking for a local mountaineering guide, try Alaska Mountaineering School. The guide fee to the mountain is $8,300. Another well-known successful company is Seattle-based Alpine Ascents. Trips start at $8,400, excluding meals, lodging, and flights to Alaska. Book at least one year in advance.


Hunting was never allowed in the park, which is why professional photographers refer to Denali animals as “familiar wildlife.” That means bears, elk, dall sheep, and caribou aren’t as shy as they are elsewhere in the state. For this reason, and because the park road was built to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities by traversing high open ground, the park is a great place to see a wide variety of animals.

Aboard the park’s shuttle, fellow travelers arm themselves with binoculars and cameras to look for animals. Most of them are used to traveling buses, so they rarely run away or hide. If someone spots something and yells “Stop!”, the driver will stop the car and take a picture. The best wildlife viewing is the first bus in the morning.


If you’ve never ventured off the beaten path, consider starting your off-trail hiking career in Denali National Park & ​​Preserve. In most national parks in North America, hikers are always reminded to stay on marked trails to prevent soil erosion, prevent damage to flora and fauna, and minimize the risk of getting lost. Alaska, like Alaska, works a little differently. Most of the state’s national parks lack an extensive network of marked hiking trails, so visitors are encouraged to get off the beaten path and explore the backcountry at their own pace. are encouraged to

Denali’s 92-mile Park Road is served by a regular hop-on/hop-off shuttle bus, providing excellent transportation connections into the depths of the park. Thanks to its elevation, much of the park is above the forest line, allowing hikers to enjoy unobstructed expansive views of the tundra. Not only does this mean Park Rd is rarely out of sight (even if you’re 5 miles away), it also prevents accidental encounters with wildlife.

No matter where you head, remember that 5 miles for the average backpacker in northern Denali is his day trip. For those who don’t feel comfortable going into the backcountry alone, the Ranger-led Discovery His Hike is for you. There are no trails, but guided hikes. Check the schedule at the Denali Visitor Center to join a ranger on a short guided walk (30 minutes to 2.5 hours) along the trails at the entrance to the park. There are also four hiking trails in the park entrance area, accessible from the Wilderness Access Center (WAC).

Eielson Visitor Center

The Eilson Visitor Center, across from Solofare Pass (3900 feet), is the most popular stop for day-trippers taking the shuttle (8 hours round trip from the park entrance). This secluded outpost is built on the slopes of the tundra, and from the viewing platform the mountains seem to float overhead. Inside, there are convenient functions such as toilets and drinking water, as well as a large panorama of the topography of the mountains. The 7,400-square-foot facility cost approximately $9.2 million to build and features several environmentally friendly design elements, including solar and hydroelectric power.

There are also two steep trails. One leads to the ridge that dominates the park and the other to the river bed where wildlife sightings are not uncommon (sometimes too close for comfort). Two ranger-led hikes are offered daily in the summer. It’s a simple 1 hour loop of 0.5 miles starting at 1pm.

Polychrome pass

At 3,500 feet above sea level, this scenic area overlooks the Toklat River to the south. Polychrome Pass, a regular stop on Denali tours and shuttles his bus route. His Overlook is named for the vibrant hues of the local rock face. Ridge trails are relatively easy to access if you want to hike at higher elevations.

Denali Sled Dogs

Denali is the only U.S. national park where rangers patrol in winter with teams of dogs. In summer, huskies serve another purpose. It entertains and educates the many tourists who attend free tours of dog sled kennels and dog shows every day. In warmer months, dogs easily pull rangers on ATVs for crowds.

The 40-minute show takes place at Park Headquarters. Free buses depart from the Denali Visitor Center 40 minutes prior to each start time. These shows are very popular. There is no limit to the number of visitors. When it’s your turn to tow an ATV, you’ll see the dogs literally jump for joy.It’s clear they don’t like just running and pulling – they live for the experience.

Stampede Trail and Magic Bath

The Stampede Trail was an overgrown, semi-abandoned mining road in April 1992. An idealistic 24-year-old hiker named Chris McCandless climbs an abandoned bus west of Healy with a rifle and his 10 pounds of rice and 10 pounds of rice and about 10 pounds of food. I camped at I have a copy of Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man in my pocket. His quest is to survive alone in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness.

A few months later, in August 1992, McCandless’ death was announced in 1996’s “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, in which Stampede follows his trail, following the so-called “magic bus” around the river currents. He is famous for recording his arrival at a pilgrimage site. Romantic young backpacker.

A flood of hikers created a problem. Although the route of the Stampede Trail is relatively flat thanks to the crossing of two dangerous rivers along the mud, some amateur hikers have found it too chewy. As a result, search-and-rescue teams call her five or six times a year to help stranded or lost travelers, and in 2010 a Swiss woman drowned trying to cross the Teklanika river. Tragedy has struck.

Today, the Magic Bus — the 1946 International Harvester (number 142), abandoned by road builders in 1961 — has been moved to the University of Alaska Northern Museum in Fairbanks, but a replica of the 142 bus is located at his 49th State Standing outside the Brewing Company. at Healy. However, you can hike the Stampede Trail, which starts 2 miles north of Healy (first 8 miles by car).

Prepare with a group if possible and use extreme caution when crossing the Savage and Teklanika rivers (never cross if the river is fast flowing). Bears are common in the area and mosquitoes are infested. Alternatively, you can take his ATV tour along the trail in summer or dog sledding from Earthsong Lodge in winter.

Dining in Denali

49 State Brewing Association

The best night out in Denali is at the 49th State Brewing Company’s multi-faceted venue. 1) Brewpubs that brew their own premium beers. 2) Great restaurant with open grill. 3) Live music venues. 4) A company that specializes in dozens of whiskeys. Indoor and outdoor communal tables have a festive feel, and fun games reduce wait times for food. Brewery tours with free tastings take place on Fridays at 4pm.

229 Park

South of McKinley Village, a stylish half-timbered retreat called 229 Parks epitomizes modern Alaska. Locally owned, organic and passionate about both the community and the environment. Everything is prepared on the premises, including the bread and butter, and the menu changes daily but typically includes local game and plenty of vegetarian options. Don’t worry if you can’t eat all of it. Leftovers are given to local dog sledding. Reservations are definitely recommended.

Prospector’s Pizzeria and Alehouse

Prospector’s is always busy, and for good reason. This cavernous alehouse-turned-pizzeria-turned-restaurant in the Old Northern Lights Theater building has quickly become one of the park area’s most popular dining he’s spots. His menu of 20 oven-baked pizzas is complemented by about 50 draft beers from nearly every microbrewery in Alaska.


There are many young Eastern Europeans working in Alaska during tourist season and this restaurant is a testament to that. Formerly Serbian seasonally turned American, Moose-AKA’s offers fried crepes, schnitzel, Russian salad, stuffed peppers, and, of course, moussaka. It’s vegan and vegetarian friendly and a great departure from the usual bar grub.

Hotels, hostels, campgrounds and lodges in Denali National Park

With the exception of a few options in the municipality of Kantishna, accommodation within the boundaries of the park is usually not available. So if you want to stay overnight in the park, you’ll need a tent or campervan (RV). However, there are many unique options near the park that are worth booking. Be sure to make a reservation before visiting, even if it’s the middle of summer. Please note that the Borough of Denali has a 7.00 lodging tax in addition to the rates listed (excluding campgrounds).

The Earthsong Lodge

North of Healy on Mile 251 of the George Parks Highway, this immaculately clean lodge sits almost alone in a green field above the tree line. The private open-air bath is home styling with charming decorations such as wildflowers and hand-carved ornaments.

Henry’s Coffeehouse next door serves breakfast and dinner. Dog sledding shows, nightly slide shows, and dog sledding and cross-country ski tours in winter. The lodge is just a short climb up from the mountain’s breathtaking views, and if you want to learn more about this peak, owner John Kidney, a former Denali ranger, offers a book about his backcountry hikes and his park. I am writing.

Carlo Creek Lodge

Surrounded by mountains, the 32-acre property is spectacular, and the handcrafted log cabins are full of true ancient Alaskan charm. Cared for by the descendants of the first settlers to settle this quaint creekside estate, the lodge has a fresh feel while maintaining a healthy respect for tradition. Common facilities include a laundry room, luxury shower block, barbecue and cooking area.

Denali Mountain Morning Hostel

Located next to the babbling Carlo Creek, this is the only real hostel in the area. It’s cool – the quality makes up for the hostel’s lack of quantity. The setting is a dream – mountains on one side, a stream running through it all. The hostel has a jumble of tent cabins, log cabins and platform tents. Open only in summer. With a fire pit, visitors can cook meals and share stories in the ‘Octagon’, the hostel’s common area. Laundry facilities are available. The hostel offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from the park’s Wilderness Access Center throughout the day.

Campsite Wundersee

This is the pinnacle of Denali campgrounds thanks to its breathtaking mountain views. The facility has 28 tent-only sites, complete with flush toilets and running water. If you’re lucky enough to book a spot, book three nights and hope Denali shows up that day. Please note that there is a $6 registration fee in addition to the camping fee.

Camp Denali

Nearly legendary Camp Denali has been the gold standard for Kantishna Lodges for the past half century. The camp’s simple, comfortable cabins are sprawled out over the ridge and elegantly complement your backcountry experience while minimizing your impact on nature. Think of it as a luxury campground with gourmet meals, guided hikes, complimentary bike and canoe rentals, breathtaking mountain views, and staff who care about Denali. You’ll feel like the beneficiary of a priceless gift.If you can’t afford the outbuildings and the 7-minute walk to the bathroom, book the attached North Face Lodge nearby for the same price.

Denali Dome Home B&B

This is not a yurt, but a huge enchanting geodesic home on 5 acres that offers a wonderful B&B experience. There are seven modern rooms (some with antique furniture), an open-plan common area with a fireplace, and a small business area. Postscript: It’s a dome house! how cool is that? As for Denali, the owner is an oracle of absolute wisdom and does a great job at breakfast. Car rental is also provided.

When to visit

The summer months, from early June through his second week after Labor Day, are peak visits with shuttles, tour buses and ranger-led activities. Summer itself also has many small seasons. June sees caribou, elk and dall his sheep giving birth, and wildflowers blooming in the high mountains.

The park is he most accessible in July and fall colors creep in his August. In September, moose ruts and northern lights begin to make their presence known. In addition, mosquitoes begin to thin. In spring and fall, visitors can drive up to Mile 30, but only until the road is closed by snow from October to April.

If you’re stopping by Cannabis Cache to purchase a smokeable stash, remember that Denali National Park is a state and cannabis is only legal in Alaska. Stay out of trouble.

Getting Oriented

The entrance to the park, where most visitors gather, extends to about four miles (4 miles) on Park Road. Here you’ll find the park’s headquarters, visitor center, main campground, and the Wilderness Access Center, where you can pay your entrance fees, book campsites and shuttle buses, and travel further through the park. Across from the WAC is the Backcountry Information Center, where backpackers can obtain backcountry permits and bear-proof food containers.

The Denali Visitor Center is a place that provides an overview of Denali National Park and high-quality exhibits about the area’s natural and human history. A beautifully shot, non-narrated film, The Heartbeat of Denali, plays in theaters every half hour of his, providing insight into the park’s wildlife and scenery. Here you can also purchase various literature on the park, including his NPS must-have Alpenglow booklet, which serves as a Denali user guide.

The Park Street

Park Road is in the center of Denali and is the starting point for most hikes. Beginning on the George Parks Highway, it winds 92 miles (92 miles) through the center of the park and ends at Kantishna, home to several wilderness lodges. The road then crosses the Savage River (mile 14). The Savage River has an established trail along the river that drops into the Sanctuary and Teklanika River valleys. Both rivers are great hiking areas, and three of the five inland campgrounds border them.

The park road continues past rivers, outback campgrounds, lookouts and trails, offering breathtaking views on rare clear days. Kantishna (Mile 90) is primarily a destination for those staying in the area’s private lodges. The bus turns around here and begins the long journey back to the Wilderness Access Center.

Camping in the Backcountry

A permit is required for overnight camping. Permits can be obtained at the Backcountry Information Center. There is also a wall map here outlining the units and a quarter board showing the number of spaces available. Permits are issued only one day in advance of him, and the most popular units fill up quickly. Being flexible has value. Decide which areas to target and be prepared to take open zones. If you are particular about it, you may have to wait a few days.

History of Denali National Park

The area that is now Denali National Park has been inhabited for over 11,000 years. For the Athabascans, this was a fertile hunting ground, and the tribe certainly encountered Dall sheep, caribou, elk, and even grizzly bears. It was also hunting that attracted white settlers in the early 20th century, after gold was discovered near Kantishna in 1905 and big game hunters followed an onslaught of miners. Conservationist Charles Alexander Sheldon began working in Kantishna the year after the gold boom to protect the park’s wildlife from the kind of hunting frenzy that was depleting bison herds on the Great Plains. .

Sheldon started the campaign, but it would come a long way to bring what was then known as Mount McKinley to the national park. The concept of national parks, and nature conservation in general, was still new. Yellowstone National Park was only 34 years old and Mesa Verde had just joined the club, but Teddy had a hole in his 1906 federal relics law that President Roosevelt controversially had. Archaeological finds of the type found in Chaco He Canyon have been sparse in the Alaskan outback. Instead, Sheldon turned to another of Roosevelt’s inventions. The Boone and Crockett Club is a conservation organization dedicated to preserving wildlife and habitat for regulated hunting.

The Boone and Crockett Club helped convince Alaskan officials and the Department of the Interior that Denali should be officially protected as a national park. It was not until 1921 that he completed his lobbying and legislative process. When the railroad first arrived in Denali in his 1923, 36 visitors enjoyed the splendor of the brand new park. It now receives about 400,000 visitors annually.

But that’s not the only change Denali National Park has seen in the last century. As a result of the Alaska Land Conservation Act of 1980, the park was increased by 4 million acres and renamed Denali National Parks & Preserve. However, the name of the mountain itself was not changed back to Denali by President Barack Obama until 2015 after being used as Mount McKinley for nearly 120 years.

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