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Overview

Alaska's most famous destination, Denali National Park sits astride the Alaska Range in the heart of the state. It's centerpiece is North America's highest mountain, 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley, known to locals as Denali, a Native term meaning "the Great One." A magnificent 90-mile gravel road bisects the park, ending at the old mining settlement of Kantishna. The road is only open to tour and shuttle buses, and reservations are highly recommended. Most buses turn back at Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66; eight hours round-trip), where travelers are treated to memorable Mt. McKinley vistas when the weather cooperates. Grizzlies, caribou, moose, ...

Alaska's most famous destination, Denali National Park sits astride the Alaska Range in the heart of the state. It's centerpiece is North America's highest mountain, 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley, known to locals as Denali, a Native term meaning "the Great One." A magnificent 90-mile gravel road bisects the park, ending at the old mining settlement of Kantishna. The road is only open to tour and shuttle buses, and reservations are highly recommended. Most buses turn back at Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66; eight hours round-trip), where travelers are treated to memorable Mt. McKinley vistas when the weather cooperates. Grizzlies, caribou, moose, wolves, foxes, Dall sheep, and ptarmigan are commonly seen along the way. There is no lodging inside the park, but hotels and restaurants can be found outside Denali in a crowded strip of development called Denali Park, with other lodges in Kantishna. The Park Service maintains seven campgrounds and several short hiking trails, with six million acres of wild country open to backcountry hiking and mountaineering. Denali is located off the Parks Highway, 240 miles north of Anchorage and 125 miles south of Fairbanks. The Alaska Railroad has a depot near the Denali entrance.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    July and August for the warmest temperatures; early September for fall colors. Buses operate mid-May to early September.