Absolute crown jewel of Alaska
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Denali National Park is the gem of Alaska. This immense nature reserve stands for wilderness and extreme temperatures. A place that people do not immediately think of for a holiday. Find the best tips for your trip to Denali.
places like Denali also offer peace and space and an intimate experience of nature. In addition, it offers vistas that linger on the retina. And that is unique in the United States.
The Alaska Mountains, to which Denali belongs, originated 65 million years ago. Because two tectonic plates collided with each other. The mountain range has emphatically drawn the landscape. Great natural forces such as volcanoes, glaciers, wind, and rain have further molded the landscape over the years.
You should plan a visit to Denali National Park well. This is partly due to the unruly climate. But also because of the limited facilities here. For example, you can travel a large part only by bus. And there are few places to stay overnight.
The Denali Park Road is the only road in this wilderness. It is no less than 150 kilometers long. And you drive along the imposing mountains of the Alaska Range. Taking high mountain passes and driving through flowery valleys. This ride is more than worth it alone.
Much of the nature reserve is not accessible to normal cars. This means that you have to continue with special buses. From milestone 15 you have to park and you can only continue by bus. You can join an organised bus tour from half a day to a full day.
There are shuttle buses between the main sites in the Denali National Park. But these are serious distances, keep that in mind. For example, they drive from Wilderness Access Center to Toklat River, which takes more than an hour, one way. They also drive to the Eielson Visitor Center: 4 hours one way. Or for example Wonder Lake: 5.5 hours and Kantishna (6.5 hours one way).
You have to pay for the buses in Denali National Park; the price depends on the distance. Booking in advance is highly recommended. This is to avoid disappointment. If you’ve booked a route, you can hop on and off anywhere along the way. The buses stop along the way when they see wildlife.
More information: nps.gov/shuttles
At 6,190 meters, Mount Denali is the highest mountain in North America. And yes, it is more than impressive. It used to be called Mount McKinley, but was given the same name the local Indians gave him. You will automatically see it appear when you enter the park.
The name Polychrome Overlook says it all. Here you can see the mountains of Denali in their most beautiful shades. This volcanic landscape has the most colorful hues. With a stream and mountains with glaciers in the background. The lookout is located on Mile 46 of Park Road.
The Savage River meanders through the impressive landscape. There is a parking lot, where you can start various hikes. Mind you, these are somewhat shorter routes. However, the chance of encountering wild animals is not too great. But you never know.
The Eielson Visitor Center is perfect for information about everything in the park. Here you can ask, among other things, where you can best spot animals such as bears. You also have an unprecedented view of Mount Denali here in good weather. The visitor center is located at Mile 66.
Wonder Lake and Reflection Point are very popular with photographers. These lakes are often quiet, so you can see the reflection of the mountains in the water. Which produces incredibly beautiful photos. You will find these two lakes after Mile 85.
Due to the sub-arctic climate, the bottom of large parts of the park is permanently frozen. In summer only the top part thaws; not an ideal situation for plants and animals. Yet the immense Denali National Park, which covers 24,315 km2, sometimes looks like a zoo. Not surprising, because the park was founded at the time to protect the Dall sheep. This wonderful animal is also called snow sheep.
The harsh climate demands that trees and plants have to adapt. In summer, when the top layer thaws, most of life can be seen. Only eight tree species are seen in the park; including black and white spruce and larch, black aspen, and the small Alaska birch.
No fewer than 430 types of plants have been counted in the park. Including over fifty species of asters, ranunculus, and members of the mustard family. For the enthusiast, there are dozens of species of algae, mosses, lichens, and fungi.