Denali National Park and Preserve
At 20,320 feet, Mount McKinley is Denali National Park's biggest
attraction. But many visitors to the park leave without having
ever seen it. That's because it's often surrounded by clouds.
On a clear day, however, it can be seen from a very long way
away. It may be visible from Anchorage, 160 miles away (a good
observation point there is one of the parking areas in Earthquake
Park near the airport).
Denali National Park and Preserve has much more than Mount McKinley
to offer visitors. Wildlife and dramatic scenery are its most
dependable attractions. If you need to take a break from the stresses of figuring out the pros and cons of annuities and want to get away from it all, this is the place to do it. Visitors taking the shuttle bus ride
from the park entrance to Wonder Lake will see a lot of both.
They can count on seeing caribou, with a good likelihood of
seeing grizzly bears -- almost certainly in the distance, but
perhaps from very close range -- , moose and dall sheep. There's
plenty of other wildlife, too, including eagles and wolves.
There is only one road in, and it goes only about 90 miles
into a park that is almost the size of the state of Massachusetts.
Moreover, all but the first few miles of the road are closed
to cars. To go further, it's necessary to take a Park Service
shuttle bus or sign up for a tour. The bus ride is a leisurely
one, with frequent stops to view the scenery, pick up or let
off hikers, and to observe wildlife. A trip to Wonder Lake and
back takes about 11 hours so it's necessary to take a bus leaving
in the morning for that. Visitors wishing to spend only a few
hours on a bus can catch buses making shorter round trips later
in the day. Bus reservations should be made at least a day or
two in advance.
The park has campgrounds at Riley Creek, just inside the entrance;
Savage River; Teklanika; and at Wonder Lake near the end of
the park road. Backcountry campers can pick up free permits
at the visitor center. Privately operated campgrounds can be
found outside the park.
A vacation village has grown up on the Parks Highway around
the Denali National Park entrance. Hotels, motels and cabins
as well as restaurants and gift shops can be found there. Advance
reservations for lodging are recommended. Several companies located near the park entrance offer rafting trips on the Nenana