Home to North America's highest mountain, Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses more than six million acres of varied settings. Open tundra yields carpets of wildflowers, and spruce trees populate the taiga. Valleys with glacier-fed rivers and lakes offer up their own wonders. The ice- and snow-covered Alaska Range, stretching for more than 100 miles, peaks at the 20,320-foot-tall Mount McKinley. The park was founded in 1917 to protect the abundant wildlife here and named Mt. McKinley National Park. It was enlarged and renamed in 1980.
As a measure of protection, the park does not allow tourist vehicles beyond mile 14, but it does offer a variety of bus tours. You'll be higher on a bus and more likely to see wildlife, especially if you bring binoculars. Ride a bus along Park Road and hop off when you see something to photograph. You can take a tundra wildlife/natural history tour, or enjoy shorter shuttle trips. The park is especially bicycle-friendly; you might enjoy biking the entire length of the 90-mile main road. You would be less intrusive and have complete control of where you go, but you wouldn't be as warm.
If You Go
If you go to Denali in the summer—you're in store for 24-hour daylight (May until mid-July) and unpredictable weather. The average high temperature in summer is in the mid-60s, but it could get hot and/or wet.
Air pollution is among the most serious threats to national parks. The National Park Service has established the NPS air quality webcam network to show “live” digital images of more than a dozen parks. Click here to see current air conditions at Denali National Park.