Anyone who has seen Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (2007), a superb biography of the adventurous Alexander Supertramp, should be familiar with Alaska’s wildest wildness. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the breath-takingly beautiful Denali National Park. Glaciers merge on vast swaths of taiga plains, spruce woods cascade into steppes, and tundra collides with huge rivers gushing with the vigour of a stampeding caribou herd.
Allow the numbers to speak for themselves: 6 million acres, North America’s tallest peak, and 1,400 square miles of glacier fields Except the enormous deserts of the south, this is unquestionably America at its most wild and untamed. Despite this, approximately 500,000 people visit this distant U.S. national park each year. They come to see grizzlies, walk through the tundra, take photos of incredible peaks, and get a sense of the harsh isolation of the so-called Last Frontier.
Where is Denali National Park?
On the map, look to the north. Denali National Park is tucked away in the upper reaches of the American Cordillera, a mountain range that stretches across both the United States and Canada. The official territory begins at the AK-3 motorway. It doesn’t end until you reach Healy, a small town with a brewery (there’s a brewery there!). Anchorage, approximately a three-hour drive south, and Fairbanks, about a two-hour drive northeast of the reserve, are the closest cities.
How to get there?
If you’re flying in from somewhere other than Alaska, you’ll almost certainly need to schedule a flight. Otherwise, you’re in for a fantastic road trip through the wild coast of British Columbia. Fairbanks and Anchorage are both options for arrival destinations. In general, the first is preferable for summiting Alaska Range peaks, while the second is ideal for river trips and trekking. The only route that cuts through the area is Route AK-3. It’s also known as the George Parks Highway, and it’s a breathtaking journey, so bring your camera.
Summer is here! In the winter, typical lows in this part of the world can reach a moustache-freezing -10 degrees F. There will also be guaranteed snow and a total of only five hours of daylight. The warmer, lighter months are ideal for exploring. Tours usually don’t start in earnest until the spring thaw, which happens around May. The months of July and August, on the other hand, are thought to be the best. The sun shines for around half of the days, and temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees.
Denali National Park, like most US national parks, is open all year. However, the situation on the ground is not so straightforward. In these places, you’re at the mercy of the weather. For most casual travellers, November to March is out of the question; it’s simply too cold, too dark, and too snowy at that time of year for any services to operate. In mid to late May, access roads, campgrounds, and visitor centres are usually fully operational.
Park Entrance Fee
Since the late 1980s, visitors to Denali’s ancient lands have had to pay a fee to enter. There have also been some recent pricing increases, so each individual will now need to pay $15 for a pass. For $45 you can get a yearly pass (allows as many entries as you like within 365 days). The good news is that an estimated 80% of the money earned from admission goes directly into the preservation of the wilderness.
Due to COVID-19, Denali National Park is only open to a limited number of visitors. Check out the current circumstances for the most up-to-date information.
Denali National Park Hiking Trails
Horseshoe Lake Trail
McKinley Station Trail
McKinley Bar Trail
Blueberry Hill Trail
Quigley Ridge Trail
Mount Healy Overlook Trail
Triple Lakes Trail
Stampede Trail to Sushana River
Where to stay?
It’s nearing sunset along the Savage River in Denali National Park in the fall. There are red and yellow bushes alongside the river, as well as distant mountains. Early September evening light on the Savage River near the Savage River Campground.
There are two front country campgrounds that you can drive to and four campgrounds that you can only go to on the camper bus if you’re vehicle camping. Regardless of where you camp, you must keep your food in a bear-proof container (you can borrow one from the park service when you get your camping permit). It is critical to use them for all scented objects and waste in order to protect both yourself and the bears! Large metal cabinets are provided at developed campgrounds for storing food and toiletries.