Welcome to Denali
Denali National Park and Preserve contains more than six million acres of wild and rugged sub-arctic terrain which includes taiga, tundra, wetlands, glaciers, the Alaska Mountain Range and one 92 mile road. It is also home to North America’s highest mountain, known locally as Denali. At well over 20,000 feet tall, it is one big mountain; a mountain with a peak that is often shrouded in clouds. Snow-capped Denali chose to make an appearance on my visit ; so did the wildlife. With so much good fortune, I definitely believe my guardian angel travelled with me in Alaska – a Schutzengel, as my Austrian grandma would have said.
A little history
The name “Denali” is derived from the Koyukon Athabascan (Native Alaskan) word “Deenaalee” which roughly translates as “The High One” or “The Great One”. Denali was renamed Mount McKinley in 1896 by a gold prospector who supported William McKinley prior to becoming president. To this day there is on-going disagreement regarding the official name; many would like it to revert back to its original name and I can appreciate why. For continuity, in this post I will refer to the mountain as Denali.
In 1917 the area was awarded national park status and was named Mount McKinley National Park. Fast forward to 1980 and the park was designated a wilderness area and incorporated into Denali National Park and Preserve.
Denali is home to an abundance of wildlife; emphasis on wild. And big for that matter, although there are also lots of smaller species of interest too. The National Park Service advises a wide range of species call Denali home including; amphibian (1 species), mammals (39 species), birds (169 species) and fish (14 species).
The Big Five
If you’re lucky when you visit Denali National Park and Preserve you might just see the “Big Five”; bears (both brown bears (grizzlies) and black bears can be found in Denali), caribou, Dall Sheep, wolves and moose. I was super-lucky to see lots of bears and caribou on my visit – in one single day!
In pictures: A road trip through Denali National Park
Last August I spent two days exploring Denali National Park; the following pictures document an 8-hour round-trip road trip I took using the Park’s shuttle service from the Wilderness Access Center to Eileson Visitor Center.
“Denali is ours to preserve”
“Denali belongs to us all. By respecting these wild lands and exercising restraint, we can minimise unwelcome changes and give our children’s children the opportunity to know and value Denali too.” (unknown, NPS)
Taking the shuttle bus to explore Denali National Park, respecting wildlife and following park rules can ensure we all contribute towards preserving this wonderful wilderness.
Plan your road trip through Denali National Park
Thinking about visiting Denali? You can read more about how I spent my day wildlife viewing, hiking and appreciating the scenery in this blog post; road trip through Denali National Park.