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Denali National Park and Preserve, an incredible national park found in Alaska, spans six million acres and is home to North America’s tallest peak, Mount Denali. Visitors flock here during both the summer and the winter months. From outdoor activities to educational programs, there is always something to do at this picturesque park. Experience Alaska through these 10 best things to do in Denali National Park.
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Alaska has incredible scenery, and one of the best ways to catch close-up views of Denali and other massive mountains is by a flightseeing tour. Flightseeing tours occur in either a helicopter or small aircraft. Visitors to the park will not have any trouble finding a flightseeing company, since there are a few options that operate within the park. Choose from quick flyover tours to even summit tours and glacier landings. No matter what flightseeing tour you choose, you will be amazed by the grandeur of Alaska and Denali National Park. Viewing this incredible park from the sky is truly one of the ways it should be experienced.
Many people flock to Denali National Park to catch views of the wildlife here. Referred to as the “Big Five,” many visitors to the park hope to spot moose, bear, caribou, dall sheep, and wolf. Since this park is truly wild, you may just see these creatures from the bus ride that takes visitors through the park. Now do be aware that these are wild animals, therefore never approach the animals. There are more animals that live in the park besides just the “big 5,” such as oxen, deer, fox, elk, goat and ram.
Dog sledding is crucial in order to operate the park during the winter time. Therefore dogs live at the park year round. Visitors can visit the Denali sled dog kennel for free, even in the summer when the dogs are training. View one of the sled dog demos or just tour the kennels and meet the pups. If you’re hoping for a dog sled tour, there are opportunities in the area for that too.
Denali National Park is just as fun in the winter as it is during the summer. Embrace the snow and ice by experiencing the park through a winter activity, such as snowshoeing or skiing. Before you enter the park, make sure to rent your gear at a nearby outfitter. Head out here for a multi-day winter camping trip or just a nice day excursion.
Murie Science and Learning Center
Learn more about the park by visiting the Murie Science and Learning Center, which is open year round. Complete with simple exhibits, this learning center is great for visitors of all ages. The Murie Science and Learning Center even hosts educational programs, kid camps and teacher trainings throughout the year too. Near the Denali Visitor Center, admission to the learning center is free.
Wilderness Access Center
The Wilderness Access Center may be your first stop in the park, no matter if you need park camping reservations or just a cup of coffee. This center is a must-stop for campers, since this is where you will learn about backcountry permits and camping spots. However the Wilderness Access Center, which is only open during the summer months, is packed full of information about the park, like the park’s history and the creation of the Denali Park Road. The Wilderness Access Center is also where all shuttle buses and tours depart.
Hiking is a popular park activity during the summer months. Near the visitors centers, there are a few groomed trails, however most of the park is completely trail-less in order to preserve the area. Therefore you can ultimately hike wherever you want in the park, but planning your route is a must. Always be prepared by packing water, food and proper gear. Guided hikes are also offered in the park too, perfect for inexperienced hikers.
Rafting & Kayaking
View Denali from the water by heading on a rafting or kayaking trip. A few companies in the area operate guided whitewater rafting adventures inside the park along the Nenana River. These guided excursions are perfect for beginners and groups. This river is a wild ride and only experienced rafters should hit the river alone.
Visit the Visitors Centers
There are two visitor centers inside Denali National Park, Denali Visitor Center and Eielson Visitor Center. Denali Visitor Center is the park’s main visitor center. Here visitors can learn about the park’s cultural and natural history and even watch a short film about the park. Complete with a bookstore and interactive exhibits, Denali Visitor Center is a great place to visit for young families. The Eielson Visitor Center, located at mile 66 in the park, is smaller than the Denali Visitor Center but is still worth your time. Here you’ll find an art gallery, restrooms and a number of hiking trails here.
During the summer, mountain biking is just as popular as hiking here. Don’t think you need mountain biking experience to explore Denali National Park from a bike. The park’s dirt road is where bikers ride, since off-road biking is prohibited. Reserve biking the road during the evening, since during the day the road is full of cars and buses. Guided mountain biking tours are also available near Otto Lake.