For many visitors, a trip to Alaska just isn’t complete without catching a glimpse of the massive, snow-capped centerpiece of Denali National Park. Topping out at 20,322 feet (6,194 meters), Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley) is North America’s highest peak. As it’s often completely shrouded in clouds, some say there’s only a 30-percent chance of seeing the peak in any one day.
There are many ways to experience Denali without actually having to climb it. Book a jeep or ATV tour of Denali National Park to explore deep into the Alaska wilderness, or take the short hike to Reflection Pond for spectacular views of Denali. Get up close and personal to North America’s highest peak with an unforgettable flightseeing tour from Anchorage or Talkeetna. Choose a tour with a glacier landing to step right out onto the ice-covered mountain yourself.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Denali is so massive, it creates its own weather. Keep your eyes on the peak since it can appear out of thin air at any moment and then disappear just as quickly.
- Pack plenty of layers; Alaska weather can change at any moment.
- Photographers will love the unobstructed views of Denali from Reflection Pond.
- The farther you travel into the park, the bigger Denali appears and the better your chances are of seeing it.
How to Get There
The entrance to Denali National Park is located about 250 miles (402 kilometers) north of Anchorage. There is only one road in Denali National Park, and most private vehicles are prohibited past mile 15 (kilometer 24). Most visitors arrive by car and then explore the park by shuttle bus or guided bus tour.
When to Get There
Denali is most accessible during the summer season, which typically runs from the end of May through the middle of September. Visitation is highest during the summer months, but winter, with only a handful of visitors and plenty of snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and dogsledding opportunities, can be a magical time to visit.
Seeing the Northern Lights
Since the region around Denali is almost completely free of light pollution, it is a great place for both stargazing and viewing the Northern Lights. The sky has to be dark enough to see the lights; by mid-August the Northern Lights start to become visible, with your best chance of seeing them from September through April.