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Call to Book. Of course, Mt. McKinley is big. But the mountain itself is just one aspect of the national park.
Talk to anyone who works in Denali Park as a guide, a ranger, a naturalist or support staff and they will tell you that the wildlife is as much a part of the show as the mountain. But face it--it's hard to get past that HUGE chunk of rock towering more than 20, feet in the air! It's hard to get a bird's-eye view of Mt. After all, Mount McKinley stands 20, feet above sea level--dwarfing the tall mountains around it.
Mount McKinley is so big that it has its own weather system. Truthfully, it can be sunny in Anchorage and Fairbanks at the same time the mountain is socked in by clouds. There are lots of big facts about Mount Denali. Some of the glaciers on Mount McKinley are well-known. For example, the Ruth Glacier is where bush pilot Don Sheldon built a cabin.
The "Mountain House" still hosts visitors from around the world. The glacier is a favorite landing spot for travelers who want a brief glacier landing as part of an air tour. Kahiltna Glacier hosts "Base Camp" for those who are climbing to the top of the mountain. However, there are dozens of other glaciers around the mountain.
On an air tour, you can see many orange cones, many of which denote a glacier landing strip staked out earlier by pilots. There are many larger-than-life Alaska pioneers that spent years on or around Mount McKinley.
Bradford Washburn and his wife, Barbara, mapped out Mount Denali in the s. Today, their calculations and technical data still figure prominently in any geographic analysis of the mountain and its surroundings. It's an incredible essay with stunning photographs of the mountain by Washburn.
The book is out of print, but go to the "Alaskacam" home page on the link above, to find the book from private parties. While much of the business for air taxis was hauling freight, the same pilots often were called on to rescue injured climbers. Don Sheldon was regarded as one of the "super airmen" of the mountain. His story is recounted in a popular Alaska book, "Wager with the Wind". The Park Service's ranger station in Talkeetna is the nerve center for monitoring climbers on the mountain. Even if you're not planning on climbing Mount Denali, a stop at the ranger station in downtown Talkeetna offers an interesting look at the mountain, its special properties and obstacles.
In fact, there are three approaches to Denali Park. Each one offers its own highlights that shouldn't be missed. The first approach to Denali National Park is the park entrance itself.
Situated at the northeast corner of the park, it's located miles north of Anchorage and about miles south of Fairbanks on the George Parks Highway along Alaska's "railbelt". You can drive there from either city, or take the Alaska Railroad, which offers daily service during the summer. There are several excellent resources for information on Denali Park, including the Denali Foundation.
Check out these Denali tours around the park in the TourSaver.
At the park entrance, there are many options for activities and accommodations. Denali Park Resorts has a host of hotels for visitors. Choose from flightseeing, rafting, horseback riding--even a visit to Iditarod Champion Jeff King's dog kennel that's a favorite with the kids. If you choose to explore Denali National Park from this vantage point at the park entrance and you only have a day or two, be sure and take one of the bus tours offered by Denali Park Resorts.
Choose the "Tundra Wilderness Tour". It leaves early, but that's the best time to see the wildlife! Another great option to see Denali National Park is by air from Talkeetna.
Various ompanies loffer daily flights around the mountain. On some tours, you can even fly over the mountain!
This is really fun! At the end of the mile road through Denali Park is the old gold-mining community of Kantishna. Because there are three lodges back at the end of the road, it represents a more exclusive approach to exploring Denali National Park. That means it's expensive. But it's worth it if you want to see a piece of the park accessible to less than five percent of the visitors.
You can save some money on tours around Mt. Denali as well by using the Alaska TourSaver.