What to See in Denali National Park

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Denali National Park is situated in the heart of Alaska. This park and preserve features glacial tundra and evergreen forests as well as Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. Encompassing more than 6 million acres of land, Denali National Park offers visitors a chance to see some of the most rugged wilderness and rare wildlife on the continent. From camping and hiking to mountain climbing and wildlife viewing, Denali has a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Denali National Park: Home of Mt. McKinley

Denali National Park: Home of Mt. McKinley

Mt. McKinley

The most obvious attraction in Denali National Park is Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America. It measures 20,320 feet in altitude and towers over the surrounding landscape. Amateur and professional mountain climbers from around the world come to Denali for the challenge of scaling Mt. McKinley. Of course, you can find plenty of excellent views and spots for photographs from a distance while in the park. However, more adventurous visitors also have the option of climbing the mountain. You can climb with or without a guide. Climbers must register with the park office at least 60 days prior to an excursion up Mt. McKinley. This preregistration is intended to provide ample time for park rangers and climbers to communicate about routes, conditions, safety information and other logistics.

Denali National Park Office

P.O. Box 9

Denali National Park, AK 99755

(907) 683-2294

nps.gov/dena

Wildlife

Wildlife abounds in Denali National Park. This sub-arctic ecosystem is home to iconic animals such as grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, foxes, bald eagles and salmon. Visitors have a better chance of seeing more wildlife in the spring and summer. The warmer weather brings many creatures out of hibernation and into the open in search of food. Animals sightings in the winter are more sparse, but you may encounter some especially rare creatures if you’re lucky. Bring a pair of binoculars no matter when you come to help your chances of spotting more animals. One of the best ways to see wildlife in the park is to take a bus ride along Park Road. Buses connect the various visitor centers and ranger stations. The bus offers several advantages for wildlife viewing. These include an elevated vantage point, trained tour drivers, complete safety and the ability to cover ground more quickly. You may also encounter wildlife while hiking or mountain climbing, but visibility is limited by brush and animals tend to spook easily if they hear you approaching. Make sure to consult a park ranger if you plan on hiking in the park. They will provide viewing tips, safety information and cautionary restrictions on certain regions of the park where it may not be safe to trek.

Denali Visitor Center

Take some time when you first arrive at the park to check out the Denali Visitor Center. This facility includes an information center, educational exhibits, a bus stop, restaurant, bookstore and gift shop. You can also leave bags at the storage area on-site. Located near the entrance to the park, the center provides information to make your experience at Denali more enjoyable. Park rangers provide tips, the “Heartbeats of Denali” film plays every 30 minutes and an exhibit area is open to the public. Life-size statues of animals loom around the main hall with informative charts alongside to bring tourists up to speed on the wildlife in the park. Ranger-led activities such as nature tours and wildlife spotting excursions depart from the visitor center, and there are many nearby hiking trails to explore. The Denali Visitor Center is a quick stop with valuable orientation resources, making it a key site to visit as part of your trip.

Denali Visitor Center

Park Road (Mile 1.5)

Denali National Park, AK 99755

907-683-2294

nps.gov/dena

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Thyberg began his writing career in 2007. He is a professional writer, editor and translator. Thyberg has been published in various newspapers, websites and magazines. He enjoys writing about social issues, travel, music and sports. Thyberg holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College with a certificate in Spanish and Latin American studies.

PHOTO CREDITS

  • mt mckinley (denali) in alaska image by Jorge Moro fromĀ Fotolia.com

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