Discover the Raw and Rugged Beauty of Denali National Park
Summer in Alaska is a time of vibrant life and beauty across “The Great Land”. It’s the perfect time for kayaking and fly fishing in many of the state’s lush waterways. And given that summer in Alaska sees a plethora of wildlife stretching their legs, wings, and fins, it’s a wonderful season to experience one or more of Alaska’s Denali National Park.
Alaska has eight such parks, and one of our favorites is Denali National Park. That’s because the park is centered around the monumental Denali, North America’s tallest peak. Known as “The High One”, this towering mountain top stretches over 20,000 feet into the blue Alaska sky.
With Mt. Denali serving as both a point of reference and inspiration, Denali National Park is a place of majesty and reverence —with some of the best hikes in Alaska.
Why a Trip to Denali Should Be on Your Bucket List
If you love to travel, the great outdoors, and wildlife viewing, then a summer trip to Denali National Park is an absolute must for your bucket list.
Hiking in Denali National Park
On your trip to Denali, start with a home base to travel from and rest at, consider renting a cabin near Wonder Lake, which serves as a central home base for hiking trips across some of the most beautiful landscapes that Alaska has to offer.
When hiking through Denali National Park, you’ll notice right away there aren’t many marked trails throughout the tundra. That’s why you should consider a guide for your adventure to set follow their feet with off-trail hiking. That may sound intimidating, but a guide will be with you every step of the way to make sure you stay safe while enjoying the freedom of the wild. And if you don’t feel quite ready for a make-your-own adventure, Wonder Lake is the
starting point of a marked trail that’ll lead you to McKinley River. Along the way, you’ll wander through forests of spruce dotted with serene ponds, offering the chance for relaxation and personal reflection. The trail is also an opportunity to see many different species of waterfowl that call the river and lake home, from tundra swans and Pacific loons to ospreys and sandhill cranes.
Wildlife Viewing in Denali National Park
Denali National Park was founded by Congress just over a hundred years ago with one purpose: to protect the vast array of wildlife species that call the park home. Over 225 species of mammals, birds, fish and amphibians strut, squawk, and swim throughout Denali National Park.
That includes big icons like the wolf, grizzly bear, caribou and moose — as well as smaller creatures like marmots and foxes. Make sure to look up while you’re hiking and you’re sure to see a sight to behold — nearly 170 of the species in the park are birds, with golden and bald eagles among them.
The Denali peak cuts an imposing figure in the endless expanse of the park’s blue sky. The name Denali comes from the word Deenaalee, which is from the language of the Koyukon Tribe who first lived in the mountain’s shadow — and still live in the region to this day.
The name translates to “The High One” — quite a fitting name. Wonder Lake sits at the foot of the mountain, reflecting the enormity of the mountain in its crystal-clear waters. The Koyukon have learned to live in harmony with the mountain and its surrounding lands and wildlife. The rest of us can, too.
Beyond Wonder Lake, the park features many fantastic viewpoints to see Denali from every angle. You won’t be able to finish your trip without gaining the same appreciation for the peak of those who first named it.
See Denali the Right Way
If you’re going to make the trip all the way to Denali National Park, make sure to experience the majesty of the park the right way, with the spirit of adventure which is the one that makes you ready for a seriously fulfilling expedition — the spirit to learn new things, and experience the world in new ways. Your companions will share a similar yearning for adventure, so conversation is sure to be rewarding and cheerful throughout the days and at the dinner table each night.
An experienced guide will make sure you’re prepared to make the most of your trip while your fellow travelers will offer new insights and perspectives. And since you’re traveling with a small group, you have the flexibility to step out on your own and make the trip completely personal and one-of-a-kind.