Denali National Park
Some of America’s most valuable treasures exist in our National Parks and Preserves. These areas are home to the most unusual ecosystems, unique geological features, exotic wildlife, and natural beauty that our country has to offer. Alaska is home to eight of these parks, spanning tens of millions of acres, including the home of North America’s tallest peak: Denali.
Denali National Park and Preserve is more than six million acres of pristine, untouched wilderness. Its landscape is mix of forest, tundra, rock, and glacier, centered around the mountain formerly known as Mt. McKinley, now referred to simply as Denali. At 20,320 feet, Denali effectively creates its own weather patterns, generating storms, fog, and high-pressure systems, so views of the mountain can be rare, as it’s hidden by clouds about 1/3 of the time.
Preserving and protecting sites like this has never been more important. As permafrost thaws and glaciers recede, scientists are using the ecosystems in Denali to study the effects of climate change in an environment untarnished by human interference.
With only one (mostly gravel) road, vehicle access is strictly regulated – the idea is to affect the environment as little as possible. Private vehicles are turned back at Savage River, near the 15 mile mark, but bus tours venture deep into the interior of the park, giving visitors a peek into a truly undisturbed ecosystem. Bear, bald eagles, moose, wolves, dahl sheep, and countless other species of wildlife can be seen in their natural habitat.
A trip to Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list. There are things to see and do there that cannot be done anywhere else. To read about it is one thing, but to see it in person is a life experience not to be missed.
About the author
Jeff Sturman is an ACE (Alaska Certified Expert) and the CEO of CruisetoAlaska.com. As an Alaska tour guide he has a wealth of experience and knowledge about Alaska, expanding over 25 years in the business with more than 35 trips to Alaska. He shares his passion for Alaska in this article series “My Favorite Places in Alaska”.