Denali National Park was established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Par in Alaska. The new name, Denali National Park and Preserve, was assigned to the park in 1980. Over six million acres in size, Denali National Park and Preserve contains the United States tallest mountain, Mt. McKinley. The park also plays host to over a million visitors every year.
Denali National Park incorporates a diverse and lush landscape, from mountain peaks to lowland forested taigas. The park has fewer trees than most people expect from such a ecologically rich area, due in large part to the high elevation. Denali's rugged terrain makes the perfect habitat for the incredible golden eagle, among a number of other species. The terrain is popular with backpackers, dog sledders and climbers.
Due to the powerful winter and rugged landscape, Denali National Park has very limited road access. This makes traveling in Denali park an adventure in itself. A 91-mile road travels east to west through most of the park, running parallel of the mountains to their immediate north. This road is only partially paved. While visitors can drive a few miles into the park, most of the roads are open only to park vehicles, meaning that those interested in seeing the park from the comforts of a car will have no choice but to take a park bus. The park provides a number of tours, including a six-hour drive to Wonder Lake.
Getting to Denali National Park
One of the most romantic ways to approach the park is by train, which can provide gorgeous vista views of Mount McKinley. Unfortunately, a train trip from Seattle to Denali can be very expensive. Plane flights out of Seattle, specifically by Alaska Air, is likely the most efficient method of visiting Denali. Alaska Airlines even has services in place to help you reach the park from its terminal in Anchorage.
Camping in Denali has several options of varying ruggedness. First, there are three campsites which can accessed by personal vehicle. An additional three campsites are only serviced by bus trips. Camping in the backcountry of Denali should only be performed by backpackers with advanced experience. For those interested in staying outside of the park, the Denali Chamber of Commerce can guide you to a local campsite or other place of lodging.