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Denali National Park

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Things to See & Do -

The main attraction is of course Denali National Park. The park is about the same size as the state of Massachusetts, so seeing the whole park is very difficult to do. People come to the part for a number of reasons. Some come to see the wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, dall sheep and golden eagles. Others come to see the spectacular scenery, including thousands of square miles of tundra, glaciers, powerful rivers, and the tallest mountain in North America. Others come to explore the wilderness on foot, by hiking and backpacking through the crown jewel of the national park system. Access to the park is limited to the transportation services provided by a number of concessionaires; no private vehicles are allowed past the first few miles of the park road. In addition to visiting the park itself, there are a number of other attractions and activities available. Whitewater rafting and whitewater kayaking are popular with visitors. Flight seeing tours of the park, by both fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft are available. And for the horse-lovers, there are trail rides available. Winter visitors can partake in dog mushing trips into the park, and the surrounding region.

Places To Eat –

One of the most important things to remember about Denali National Park is that it is a wilderness, and there are no visitor services inside the park itself. So if you’re planning a visit of more than an hour or two, you need to consider what food you’ll bring along with you. Some of the tours in the park provide food as a part of the tour, but visitors should inquire about what is available before heading on a day-long trek into the park. If you’re looking for something to carry into the park with you, there are a number of choices. Two of the standouts are the Café at Earth Song Lodge, and Bub’s Subs. You don’t need to be a guest at Earth Song to partake in their great bag lunches, or their dine-in fare. Bub’s Subs is located right in the commercial area in Denali Park, near Denali Outdoor Center. If you’re looking for a great dinner, try the Perch, located south of the park on the Parks Highway at Carlo Creek. Alaskan seafood, steaks and other delicious entrees are served every evening. Also, all of the major hotels have wonderful restaurants that are open from early morning to late at night.

Places to Stay –

Lodging choices in the Denali Park area fall into two main categories: Medium-sized hotels, and small inns, cabins and bed and breakfasts. We generally prefer to send our clients to the smaller inns, because we want our clients to experience the real Alaska, and meet real Alaskans! All of these inns and bed and breakfasts are exceptionally comfortable, with spectacular scenery and amenities. There are several fine hotels in Denali Park, including several that are owned and operated by some of the major cruise lines. These are fantastic places to stay, but their availability is sometimes limited.

Geography –

The town of Denali Park is located on the Nenana River, in the heart of the Alaska Range. The scenery is dominated by craggy, steep mountains surrounding a glacially-fed river. The town is located on the George Parks Highway, about 120 miles south of Fairbanks, and 250 miles north of Anchorage. Denali National Park stretches west from the Nenana River, along and north of the main ridges of the Alaska Range. The most notable feature is Mt. McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain, at 20,320 feet. In addition, Mt. Foraker and Mt. Hunter make up the impressive southern skyline of the park. About 20 miles south of the town, the Denali Fault crosses the highway. This fault marks the boundary between the North American Plate to the north, and the Pacific Plate to the south. These two plates are moving past each other, with the North American plate moving east with respect to the Pacific Plate. In November, 2002, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred about 40 miles east of the park along this fault.

Climate –

The climate of the Alaska Range area is can be quite extreme. Summer temperatures can get as high as the mid 80’s, but typically summer highs are in the 60’s to low 70’s. Because of the altitude of the park, snow can fall on any given day; in fact, three different snow storms hit the park during the summer of 2003. The weather on Mt. McKinley is extreme and changeable. Because of its height and prevailing winds, the peak of the mountain is often shrouded in clouds. Winter temperatures in the Denali Park area can be as cold as -65F, but are generally in the -10 to -20 range during the coldest part of the season. Strong winds are common in the canyons especially around the town of Denali Park, and at these times, temperatures can rise into the 30’s and 40’s above.

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