Become one with nature, experience some of the most breathtaking views of a lifetime, and see wildlife the way it is meant to be seen! Come explore Alaska and visit Denali National Park! With a rich history of protecting wildlife, this pristine preserve is home to several animal and plant species for you to view. This park provides them with pure, undisturbed habitats that you will love exploring!
About Denali National Park
Founded less than a year after the National Park Service formed, Denali National Park will celebrate its 100th birthday in February of 2017! Although buildings and services have come a long way since then, the founding principles have remained the same! Home to the mountain called Denali, which is the highest mountain peak in North America, this park exists to provide visitors with an unadulterated experience with nature, where animals and plants flourish in their uninterrupted natural habitat!
Although Denali holds roughly six million acres of wild land, it only features one single road! This road spans 92 miles, although only the first 15 miles are paved and available for use with personal motor vehicles. This ensures that the pristine wilderness stays that way! If you’d like to experience the rest of Denali, you can walk, bike, or take a bus tour to experience the full glory that this park has to offer!
Denali National Park is home to several plant and animal species that all play a vital role in keeping its diverse ecosystems in check! You’ll see everything from scurrying rodents and brave mammals to towering trees, green grasses, and lichens!
The “Big Five” Mammals
There are five animals that visitors are most excited to catch a glimpse of when visiting Denali, and they've been dubbed “the big five”: bears, wolves, caribou, moose, and Dall sheep. There are hundreds of bears within the park, both of the black and grizzly species! Wolves have a waning presence within the park, unlike caribou, which you’re more likely to encounter! It’s not uncommon to see moose, especially in their late summer/early fall mating season! A thriving Dall sheep population is a direct result of the founding of Denali National Park, which was founded to help preserve this neat species! Of course there are numerous other mammal species too, so stay on the lookout!
One Lonely Amphibian
One lone species of frog is the only amphibian found in Denali National Park, as the cold, harsh climates aren't hospitable for reptiles and most other amphibians! The wood frog is resilient, and pushes itself to the extreme in order to survive! As temperatures drop, this frog freezes solid in the winter months, and thaws out in the spring!
Sled dogs are a large part of a standing tradition in Denali National Park! They have been used as a reliable form of transportation within the park since 1922! Sled dogs are reliable as they are willing and able to adventure out in the coldest of temps, and are intuitive about the conditions of the surrounding landscape! Take the opportunity when exploring the park to see a sled dog demonstration, which are held three times daily in the peak season, and explore the kennels, which are open year-round! If you need a pick-me-up today, click here to meet all the members of the teams!
Things To Do
There are five different visitor centers within Denali National Park, where you can learn about the park and its history, the park's wildlife, watch films, embark on nature walks, obtain permits, and much more! The park’s main location, the Denali Visitor Center, is only open in the summer, but has the most exhibits and other interactive offerings!
Bus and Shuttle Tours
Since personal motor vehicles aren’t permitted after the first 15 miles into the park, bus tours and shuttles are the only means of getting a great view of Denali National Park! Bus tours are perfect if you’d like a guided, narrated tour of the park! This is a great way to learn about the sights you are seeing and the nature that surrounds you! Shuttles are cheaper than bus tours, but are not narrated. However, you can exit and re-board the shuttles at your leisure, so you can explore Denali on your own terms!
One of the founding principles of Denali National Park is that visitors should be able to explore the area’s wilderness without the interference of modern society, so there is not an abundance of marked trails within the park. The best way to experience Denali is to take a shuttle and explore the wilderness on your own terms! If you choose to stick to trails, here are some to check out!
Triple Lakes Trail
This is quite a lengthy hike, with a one-way distance of 9.5 miles that makes it the longest trail in Denali. But it is well worth it! Wind your way through trees and experience jaw-dropping views of distant, unnamed mountains, scale to higher elevations, and view three different lakes!
Horseshoe Lake Trail
This is a shorter, easier hike on a developed trail, making it popular with many hikers! The panoramic views of the surrounding Nenana River, gorgeous oxbow lake, and majestic mountains are a big payoff for this three-mile round trip hike!
Savage River Loop Trail
This is a great hike for kids! At only two miles round trip, this trail sits near the 15 mile mark into the park, which allows you to get deeper into the wilderness of Denali! You’ll get a great look at the Savage River, and it’s also not uncommon to see caribou and Dall sheep while out on this hike!
Ranger Programs and Hikes
If you’re staying in the campgrounds within Denali National Park, you’ll be able to experience ranger programs, which are informal talks about a variety of topics pertaining to the park! You’ll learn a lot about the wilderness around you, and it is the perfect opportunity to ask a knowledgeable ranger about the wonders of Denali!
Ranger-led hikes are offered June through early September, and let you get into the heart of Denali with an experienced leader! It’s the perfect way to embark on unforgettable adventures in a safe manner, and you’ll learn valuable information along the way!
There are six different campgrounds located within Denali National Park, which is perfect since a one-day visit is not enough to experience the full glory of this cherished area! There are only two campgrounds that allow RV camping, as most of the park isn't open to use by personal vehicles!
Riley Creek Campground
You’ll love the rustic feel of this homey campground! This is the only campground in Denali that is open year-round, so you can explore this amazing winter wonderland! Fees aren't charged over the winter, which is even better! Riley Creek is fairly wooded, which provides a bit of privacy and adds rustic charm! Running water is available only after May 15th, depending on the weather, but there is a nearby camp store with laundry, showers, and a dump station! The close proximity to the main entrance to the park is another plus, so you can easily exit the park and access nearby businesses if needed! To make advanced reservations, click here!
Savage River Campground
This wonderful campground is located near the end of the paved portion of the main road of Denali, which puts you that much closer to nature! It’s not uncommon to see snowshoe hares and other small animals here, but you may see an occasional moose if you’re lucky! Savage River is only open in the summer months, there are no hookups available, and there aren't laundry or showering facilities, so plan ahead for dry camping! Make your reservations online!
Denali National Park features an amazing system for backcountry camping, which is perfect to satisfy your adventurous spirit! Careful planning and permits are required for backpacking and backcountry camping, but you’ll love being out in the pure natural wilderness! You can obtain a backpacking permit only in-person no more than a day before you embark!
For the ultimate adventure of a lifetime, choose Denali National Park! The visages of Denali’s peak, animals frolicking freely, and stunning sunsets over the mountains will be emblazoned in your memory forever! Explore Alaska to embark on adventures you’ve only dreamed of! What are you most excited to see when you visit Denali National Park? Leave us a comment to let us know!