Things to Do in Denali Alaska

Things to Do in Denali Alaska
Home to the majestic Mt. McKinley, Denali National Park is one of the greatest wildernesses preserved by the National Park System. Visitors have a good chance to not only be awed by North America's tallest mountain, but also encounter wild animals like the caribou, Dall sheep, moose and grizzly bears. For hikers, bikers, climbers, skiers and snowshoers, and other outdoors enthusiasts, Denali is a wonderland of adventure.


Denali National Park has three basic types of campgrounds. First are the three campgrounds that are more or less off the (sole) road that runs through part of the park: Riley Creek, Savage River and Teklanika River Campgrounds. These have facilities like toilets, dump stations and running water and can accommodate RVs. Riley Creek even has showers and a coin-operated laundry. However, none has RV hook-ups. Next are the "bus-in" campgrounds, which are in parts of the park from which private vehicles are banned. These are primitive, with no running water. Finally, there is backcountry camping by permit.


Hiking and Cycling

Hiking in Denali covers a wide range of options. The simplest and shortest are day hikes on marked trails, including guided nature hikes led by park rangers. Then there are the backcounty hikes, which require overnight stays in the wilderness and cross-country orienteering. Getting a backcountry permit requires registering your itinerary with the park and attending a short safety course, but is otherwise free. Backcountry hikers and campers are also required to use portable camping stoves (no campfires), carry bear-safe food containers, adhere to "leave no trace" standards, and admonished to exercise proper water purification techniques while in the wilderness. Finally, the 90 mile-long park road (part-paved and part-gravel) offers a long journey in and of itself, as well as magnificent views.


One of the major attractions of Denali is the Mt. McKinley (20,320 feet), the highest peak in North America, but that is hardly the only climbable mountain in the park. Mountaineering in the park requires backcountry hiking and camping on the face of it, just to gain access to a chosen mountain. In addition, attempts to climb Mt. McKinley or Mt. Foraker (17,400 feet) require registration at least 60 days in advance of the attempt and a (in 2009) $200 fee per climber.

Winter Sports

Denali National Park remains open in the winter, and offers cross-country skiing, snoeshowing and dog mushing opportunities. Most of the park is off-limits in the winter, but these sports can be pursued in a still-substantial area around the park entrance.


Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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