Denali National Park   6 comments

Denali NP 00Where Is It: The Park is over 300 miles north of Anchorage. You can drive part of the way … take a 91-mile road from the George Parks Highway to the mining camp of Kantishna. The road is largely unpaved. Only the first 15 miles are available to private vehicles. After that, you must use a bus service … 6 hours to Wonder Lake, or 4 hours to the Eielson Visitor Center.

The Birth: From the Park’s website:

Denali, the “High One,” is the name Athabascan native people gave the massive peak that crowns the 600-mile-long Alaska Range. Denali is also the name of an immense national park and preserve created from the former Mount McKinley National Park. In 1917 Mount McKinley National Park was established as a game refuge. The park and the massif including North America’s highest peak were named for former senator – later President – William McKinley. In 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enlarged the boundary by 4 million acres and redesignated it as Denali National Park and Preserve. It exemplifies interior Alaska’s character as one of the world’s last great frontiers, its wilderness is largely unspoiled.

Controversy: From Wikipedia:

The name of Mount McKinley National Park was subject to local criticism from the beginning of the park. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to the mountain itself. The mountain was named after newly elected US president William McKinley in 1897 by local prospector William A. Dickey. In 1980, Mount McKinley National Park was combined with Denali National Monument. At that time the Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain back to “Denali,” even though the U.S. Board of Geographic Names maintains “McKinley”. Alaskans tend to use “Denali” and rely on context to distinguish between the park and the mountain.

It Happened Here: There was a massive mudslide in November 2013, that covered the park road near mile 38 with mud up to 35′ deep. From National Park Traveler:

Blocks of permafrost-frozen, unconsolidated debris as thick as 15’ and the size of a small cabin had slid on a slippery, unfrozen clay that acted as the failure plane. With winter snows held off by unseasonably warm weather, the Denali road crew managed to clear the road of debris after considerable effort.

Size: 6,075,029 acres, of which 4,724,735.16 acres are federally owned. The national preserve is 1,334,200 acres, of which 1,304,132 acres are federally owned. On December 2, 1980, a 2,146,580 acre Denali Wilderness was established within the park.

# Visitors: 388,433 in 2012. August was the most attended; February was the least attended.

Plants: This subarctic wilderness is home to more than 1,500 species of vascular plants, mosses and lichens.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

Animal life and activity in Denali is dictated by the seasons. Winter is the longest season and the animals that are year-round residents are well-adapted to life in the subarctic. The brief spring season brings the return of 80% of Denali’s bird life, the waking of hibernating bears, and an increase in activity levels of wildlife. Summer is a time for raising young and preparing for migration, hibernation, or survival during the winter. Summer also brings hordes of insects, including mosquitoes. In late summer king and chum salmon run in the multitude of streams and rivers. In autumn, migrating birds fill the skies and bull moose gather their harems of cows for the mating season.

Year-round residents include all the mammals, fish, about 18 species of birds, and the one lone amphibian, the wood frog.

Choices: From

  • Overnight backpacking is a popular activity for wilderness trekking enthusiasts. Backcountry stays in Denali National Park require a free backcountry permit available at the visitor center during the summer months and at park headquarters during the winter months. Most areas require the use of Bear Resistant Food Containers, distributed free of charge with your backcountry permit. Bear encounters are fairly common, so learn how to handle them ahead of time.
  • The most challenging peak to summit in the United States is Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley). With a summit of 20,320 feet, temperatures known to fall below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and 95-mile-per-hour winds, summiting Denali is for expert mountaineers only.
  • To access day hikes (and scout longer backpacking adventures) in Denali, follow the park road. Take a shuttle bus, get off at an interesting location, and hike from there. When you feel you’ve gone far enough, turn back and either wait for the next shuttle bus or walk along the road until the next bus comes.

Fees: The park entrance fee is $10.00 per person (youth age 15 years or younger are free). This fee provides the visitor a 7-day entrance permit.

Staying There: Inside the Park, there is lodging at Camp Denali, Kantishna Roadhouse and Northface Lodge.

Contact Info:

P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755-0009

Current Issues: The wolf population in the Park is dropping, resulting in fewer wolf  viewing opportunities for Park visitors. Perhaps that is due to hunting of wolves in properties adjacent to the Park, but that has not been verified by NPS staff. Here are the stats, from National Park Traveler:

According to the park’s wolf viewing report, this past summer marked the third consecutive year that researchers “found that visitors traveling in buses on the Denali Park Road have had significantly declining opportunities to see wolves. In a random sample of 80 bus trips this summer, wolves were seen on three occasions, or about 4 percent of the trips. By contrast, in the three previous years the percentages were 12 percent (2012), 21 percent (2011) and 44 percent (2010).”



National Park Service: Denali National Park & Preserve

Terra Galleria: Denali

Denali Repeat Photos

6 responses to “Denali National Park

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