Corbitt's National Parks
    Denali
                 National Park and Preserve


  

           



1917: Mt. McKinley National Park

1976: International Biosphere Reserve

1980: Denali National Park and Preserve

Size: 6,075,030 acres

2012 visitors: 388,433

Stamp: ?


Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Mt. McKinley, at 20,320 feet, is the highest mountain in North America and the crowning peak of the 600-mile Alaska Range. Denali, the "High One", is the name the Athabascan people used for this monster, and Denali National Park and Preserve's 6.1 million acres includes countless other spectacular mountains and glaciers. Denali contains a complete subarctic ecosystem, populated with wolves, Dall sheep, grizzly bears, moose and caribou.

Visitors will enjoy the mountains, alpine glaciers, and rolling lowlands with wide rivers. Most of Denali is covered with alpine tundra, rock, and ice. Wet tundra contains dense brush and shrubs, while dry tundra along slopes and hills is made of small plants and wildflowers.

What You're Going to See

For best weather, visit during late May through early September. There's plenty to do in Denali, including backpacking, cross-country skiing, hiking, bicycling, dog mushing, bus touring, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, mountaineering, stargazing, and of course wildlife viewing.

During summer months, park rangers conduct theater programs, campfire programs, and 0.5- to 6-mile hikes. Visitors can also watch sled-dog demonstrations. In 2005 a new visitors center opened, with improved facilities and a 299-seat theatre. It also won an award for its environmentally-friendly design. An 87-mile park road parallels the Alaska Range from the park entrance to Wonder Lake. Only the first 15 miles are paved, and the road is generally open from early June to mid September. At its closest point, Mt. McKinely is 27 miles from the road.

Personal Observations

Ha. Like I can drag my family up here! But I'd love to, one summer.

Getting There

In the summer, the Alaska Railroad provides daily service to the Park from both Anchorage and Fairbanks. If you are driving from Anchorage, take Highway 1 north about 202 miles to Park Headquarters. From Fairbanks, you can drive south on Highway 1 for about 126 miles to Park Headquarters.

Nearby Attractions

There are several excellent parks in Alaska. But because of the state's huge size, only Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, about 80 miles southwest of Denali's border, can be called "nearby".