Denali National Park is arguably the best known of all the parks in Alaska and one of the top draws for visitors. At over 6 million acres it welcomes almost half a million visitors each year to explore not only North America’s highest peak, Mt. McKinley, but also the diverse wildlife and unique landscape. Since there are so many different things to see inside the park, let’s take a look at some of the more popular things you can do to fully enjoy everything Denali National park has to offer.
The park attracts a number huge number of climbers and mountaineers who look to scale McKinley, also known as Denali, the name given to the peak by one of the local tribe. Some of the most experienced climbers in the world look to take on the challenge of Mt. McKinley, at just over 20,000 feet, it is one of the most challenging climbs not only in the Alaska Range but in all of North America. If you are looking for more climbing opportunities, then try ice climbing. Quite a bit few people flock to the ice falls that can be found along the Ruth Gorge. Keep in mind, if you are interested in climbing Mt. McKinley, you must plan ahead of time and register with the park a full 60 days in advance of your expedition.
There is plenty to do and see once you’re inside Denali National Park. Although the park is open all year round, most visitors will get there during the summer months when the weather is a bit nicer and it’s not so cold. There are a number of hiking trails in Denali, most of them start right around the Visitors Center. Some of the more popular easy trails include the Horseshoe Lake Trail and the McKinley Station Trail. Visitors also love checking out the sled dog kennels as well. The huskies that live inside the park are vital to the transportation needs of many of the rangers during the winter. These types of dogs have been used and taken care of for generations with the local tribes. For visitors who prefer to explore Denali National Park on wheels, then consider taking one of the bus options. There are a number of buses that drive up and down the 96 mile Denali Park Road that offer tour trips, nature tours and wilderness tours.
Getting to Denali
Since Denali is one of the more remote National Parks, it shouldn’t be surprising that it can take a little while to get there (but worth it). You have a couple of options, the most common being driving or taking a train. The drive will go along Alaska Highway 3, just under 250 miles north of Anchorage, and 120 miles south of Fairbanks. A train also runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and luckily has a stop right in the middle of Denali National Park. So it allows visitors who don’t want to drive the option to see the park on their own schedule. Have you been to Denali? Let us know what you think about the park in the comments!