At more than 6 million acres (2.5 million hectares), Denali National Park is a breathtaking wilderness area, which includes North America’s highest mountain. A single road curves 92 miles (148 kilometers) through the heart of the park, leading to off-trail hiking opportunities, abundant wildlife, and stunning tundra panoramas.
Wildlife in Denali National Park, including mammals such as marmot and moose, is easy to spot. Caribou, wolves, and brown bears are crowd favorites. The park is also well known for its bird population, especially during late spring and summer. Birdwatchers may find waxwings, Arctic Warblers, and the majestic tundra swan. Predatory birds include a variety of hawks, owls, and the striking golden eagle. Ten species of fish, including trout, salmon, and arctic grayling share the waters of the park.
However, the main attraction is magnificent Mount McKinley, 20,320 feet (6,190 meters) tall - a high pyramid of rock, snow, and glaciers rising from the valley floor. Clouds will obscure McKinley more often than not, so be prepared to wait for the big picture. On a clear day, head to Wonder Lake, where you can see the mountain’s reflection on the lake's surface. Sunset is even better, when the summit’s reddish glow provides a stunning reflection.
Denali National Park is about a 6 hour drive north from Anchorage. You can get to the park via shuttle bus or the Alaska Railroad. Denali provides many camping, biking, hiking, and other wilderness opportunities. Plan to spend at least a day in the park; more if you want to camp and hike. The best time to visit is during the late spring and summer.
Inside the park, the Denali Park Road is served only by official shuttle buses, which have limited seating; you cannot drive in the park. If you're planning to spend the day riding the buses, pack plenty of food and drink. It can be a long ride, and there are no services save for toilets and, at the Toklat Ranger Station, bottled water. If you plan to get off the bus and do some hiking, carry a park map so you know where you are.
Tours & Tickets
Location: Talkeetna, Alaska
Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Duration: 8 hours