Day Four: Denali National Park
DENALI: Everything about Denali National Park is big: the scenery, the mountains, the incredible beauty, and the animals. Early this morning, you will embark on the Denali Park Shuttle Tour, an excellent way to spot the wildlife for which Alaska is so famous: moose, bear, wolves, caribou, Dall sheep.
It is a fascinating 6 to 8 hour motorcoach tour into the park. This is the only way to enter the park, as it is a preserve. So bring your camera and binoculars. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch and beverage as there are no services in the park. These can be purchased at several of the local restaurants the night before, at your hotel or at the local grocery, Canyon Market & Cafe.
Mount McKinley National Park was established in 1917 to protect its large mammals, not because of majestic Mt. McKinley. In 1980, the boundary was expanded to include both the Denali caribou herds wintering and calving ground and the entire Mt. McKinley massif. This more than tripled the size of the park, and was renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. It was also designated an International Biosphere Reserve significant for the potential for sub-arctic ecosystem research.
Denali is an Athabascan word meaning The High One. The mountain is officially named Mt. McKinley but is also referred to as Denali. Mt. McKinley is the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet, , so often covered in clouds. It is only visible about 1/3 of the time, so visitors to the park only have about a 30% chance of viewing Mt. McKinley.
Denali is one of the greatest wildlife viewing areas in the world. Visitors have a chance of seeing grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, foxes, and wolves. Many smaller animals also inhabit the park such as arctic ground squirrels, hoary marmots, pikas, snowshoe hares, and beavers. For those interested in bird watching, there are a variety of birds that migrate to the park for the summer. The list includes arctic tern, American golden plover, long tailed jaegers, the surfbird, arctic warbler, the wheatear, willow ptarmigan, golden eagles, and ravens. Approximately 150 species live in and around the Denali area during the summer months.
This evening is at your leisure, you can choose to have dinner at area restaurants. Overnight again at your Denali lodging.
View our preferred accommodations for this area:
Denali National Park Area Lodging