Alaska’s Denali National Park is located 238 miles north of Anchorage and 120 miles south of Fairbanks and is larger than the state of Massachusetts. This iconic U.S. national park is also one of the world’s last great frontiers for wilderness adventure. Mountain Denali is North America’s highest peak at 20,320 feet. Denali is an Athabascan name and stands for the “high one”. Its impressive vertical relief of 18,000 feet is even greater than that of Mount Everest and towers over the other mountains in the Alaska Range.
During their Denali National Park tour, many people discover more than they expected. Denali National Park’s sub-arctic ecosystem supports abundant wildlife, including the “big 5”: Grizzly bears, Dall sheep, caribou, moose, and wolves. Denali’s tundra landscape fills with wildflowers, and migrating birds visit the region throughout the summer. The park’s 6 million acres of wilderness makes Denali an explorer’s paradise, and with a wide variety of accommodations, it is a perfect addition to any Alaska vacation.
Denali National Park’s summer operating season is from mid-May to mid-September. With the exception of a few lodges situated within the park, most of Denali’s hotels and activities are found near the park entrance, including opportunities for hiking, river rafting and helicopter flightseeing tours. The main Denali Visitors Center at the park entrance, is open from approximately 8 am to 6 pm daily during the summer months. The visitor center has an enormous amount of information about the park, including displays, maps, and short films. Ranger guided hikes leave directly from the center, and vary in length and activity level. The Denali National Park rail depot is located just a short walk from the visitor center. There are two other information centers in the park, Eielson and Toklat, and a Ranger Station is located in the small town of Talkeetna, approximately 153 miles south of the Denali park entrance.
The park has only one road extending 91 miles from the park entrance to Kantishna. Only 15 miles of the road are open to private vehicles. The park has scheduled shuttle bus transportation as well as guided road tours. The tour buses depart from the majority of the Denali park entrance hotels, as well as the Wilderness Access Center. For visitors interested in viewing wildlife, no trip to Denali would be complete without a bus tour into the park.
For those wishing to escape deeper into the wilderness of Denali, several remote lodges are located within the park. All of these lodges offer all-inclusive overnight stays with comfortable accommodations in cabin or motel style buildings. They are less luxurious than some of the park-entrance hotels but have modern amenities and are tastefully decorated. All of the lodges offer guided hikes and nature programs for their overnight guests and a couple offer meals using produce grown on site. Kantishna Roadhouse and Denali Backcountry Lodge are located at the very end of the park road while Camp Denali and its sister property the North Face Lodge are on rises with great views of Denali. All of these lodges are a great way to get a more in depth Denali wilderness experience.
Find out what you can discover on a visit to Denali National Park: