IMPORTANT for any hike:
Never underestimate a hike and plan accordingly for weather, in the event something happens. Some trails are marked easy, but be prepared for the walk - hydrate before, during, and after. You WILL run into wildlife at some point and always have a chance at getting lost; always communicate someone your location, when they should expect you back, the distance, etc. Additionally, avoid tough, thick brush and be wary of the streams.
Country: United States
Area in Square Miles: 7,408
You can't complete a trip to Alaska without visiting Denali National Park. This park is one of the most toured destinations in the last frontier and covers roughly 6 million acres of land. It features one skimpy road (in and out) covering 90 miles that serves as the main access way for cyclists, hikers, and bus tours and public access gets denied around mile 15.
Although, road lotteries exist, that allow single-day passes through the entire 90 mile drive for lucky winners. Denali stands for "the high one" in Athabaskan, rightly called because Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America. Most of what is made up of Denali National Park (once referred as Mount McKinley National Park) is considered the "Wilderness" and what us hikers like to call, "backcountry", because they feature no trails!
This adventure path is full of wildlife, as you're most likely to run into moose, many bears, caribou, and wolves - if you're lucky. The best thing to do if you see a wild animal is to keep a safe distance; don't be the tourist that's trying for the perfect shot - it may provoke them.
If they are near or recognize you, be sure to make a lot of noise as possible and present with your hands raised to seem as a larger figure. If that doesn't get you excited, the mountains will; My wife and I traveled with a lottery pass 90 miles through Denali last year and the view was worth every mile taken. Here are some basic things you need to know as you plan your visit.
Denali Park Map
Is there a fee?
The entrance fee for Denali is $10 per person for 7 days. If you are bringing a vehicle, it stretches to $20.
You have three options: you can drive into and out of the park (15 or 90 mile stretch), hike and camp inside, or take guided bus tours.
When should you visit
Denali is open year round, so it depends on what you're seeking. If you want to ski, I suggest traveling somewhere between mid-November through the beginning of April. If you just want to catch the sights and capture wildlife, many people go during the milder parts of the summer; Just prepare for insects and/or mosquitoes if you do so.
Can you stay there?
Grande Denali Lodge & Denali Bluffs Hotel
There are many hotels, lodges, and campgrounds in and around the park, it really matters on your preference and the size of your group. Many hotel rooms are taken up quickly and the lodges are nice, but come with a hefty price. I suggest shopping around to find the best match for you. If your intention is to be among the wild, you can make a reservation with one of many campgrounds (ahead of time because spaces fill rapidly) and choose to stay on the grounds surrounded by nature.
I want to hike or backpack
Hikers can enjoy the trails of Denali at any time during the year, however, there's a limit to how many hikers can be on a trail at a single time - so plan accordingly. Also, if you choose to go backpacking, you will be required to visit the Backcountry Desk in the Visitor's Center.
Here, the staff will brief you and cover mapping the area, safety talk, the weather, watching a video, and getting a bus ticket. At whatever point you choose to go, you're going to experience much more than what you'd hope for.
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