Locations in Interior Alaska
Denali National Park | Interior Alaska
Denali, the “High One”, is the name the Koyukon Athabaskan people gave the massive peak that crowns the 600-mile-long Alaska Range. At 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America and the number one visitor attraction in the State.
In a typical year, most visitors will only be able to tour the Denali Park Road by shuttle bus or attend the daily ranger-naturalist programs. However, in 2021, Denali National Park has created a special permit program that will allow visitors to purchase a special Park Permit ($25), which will allow private vehicles to drive to the Teklanika rest stop at mile 30. Private vehicles are not usually allowed past Savage Creek at mile 15 (Read the Press Release here). Reservations can be made at recreation.gov
While in Denali, you can also choose to go rafting, ziplining, ATVing, hiking, or camping (permit required). There is also dog mushing in the winter, Jeep tours and plenty more activities to keep visitors busy.
Due to a landslide in August 2021, the Denali Park Road is now closed at mile 43. This means the Eilson Visitor Center at mile 66 and the Wonder Lake Campground at mile 85 are closed for the rest of the season. It possible the closure could extend into the summer of 2022, as the perma-frost under the road has been melting at an unprecedented pace and may not allow the road to reopen.
How to Get to Denali National Park?
From Anchorage, Denali National Park is 238 miles on the Parks Highway. This will take approximately 5 hours, but you should plan for longer so you can enjoy the drive and stop at the interesting pioneer town of Talkeetna on the way. It’s also possible to take the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage. The train from Anchorage will take around 8 hours.
From Fairbanks, Denali National Park is 120 miles on the Parks Highway, which will take around 2 hours. The Alaska Railroad will take 4 hours to travel from Denali to Fairbanks.
How long should you plan to stay in Denali?
Exploring Denali National Park will take a minimum of 2 days. if you plan to hike or camp while visiting, you may want to stay even longer.
Denali: History of the Park and Mountain
The mountain was named Mount McKinley by a prospector in 1897 in honor of soon to be President William McKinley. Congress officially confirmed the name in 1917, however, this peak’s name has remained controversial. In 1975 the Alaska Board of Geographic names officially changed the name of the mountain to “Denali.” Ever since then, it petitioned for the federal government to do the same. Finally, in 2015 the U.S. Department of the interior officially changed the name from Mt. McKinley to Denali.
Mount McKinley National Park became Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980 and was tripled in size to six million acres, which is larger than New Hampshire.
Denali exemplifies interior Alaska’s character as one of the world’s last great frontiers for wilderness adventure and remains largely wild, unspoiled and beautiful. Denali is readily accessible by car or RV on the Parks Highway or on the Alaska Railroad from either Anchorage or Fairbanks. In summer a number of private bus and van services operate daily from Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Helpful links for visiting Denali National Park: