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Denali National Park & Preserve

Denali National Park & Preserve - BEST Places to Picnic

P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, Alaska 99755

Phone
Visitor Information
(907) 683-2294

WELCOME to Denali!

Denali's dynamic glaciated landscape supports a diversity of wildlife with grizzly bears, caribou, wolves, Dall sheep and moose. Summer slopes are graced with birds and wildflowers. Visitors enjoy sightseeing, backpacking, mountaineering, and research opportunities. Whether climbing or admiring, the crowning jewel of North America�s highest peak is the awe inspiring 20,320 foot Mount McKinley.

Six million acres of wildland - one ribbon of road.

To access the wonders that the park offers, most visitors travel by bus. Our shuttle system offers independence and many options while our tours provide narration and interpretation. Either choice will get you up close to the many splendors of flora, fauna and spectacular scenery of Denali.

The "Big Five"

A goal for many visitors to the park is to see the "big five." On a ride along the park road visitors can see a moose browsing in a stand of willow, caribou resting on a snow patch to avoid insects, Dall sheep high on the hillsides, a wolf trotting across the tundra, or a grizzly bear feeding on ripening blueberries.

Things to Do

Denali National Park & Preserve is full of activities that can keep you busy for hours or weeks. While summer is the most popular time to visit Denali, winter offers many recreation and sightseeing opportunities. Here at Denali, we encourage you to take a moment to learn more about this area -- then start exploring.

Examples of just a few of the many opportunities available to you include touring the Denali Park Road by bus, attending ranger-naturalist programs, mountaineering (advanced registration required), day hiking, backcountry camping (permit required), skiing and dog mushing (winter only).

History

Five groups of northern Athapaskan people once occupied, at least seasonally, the region now within Denali National Park and Preserve. The formidable Alaska Range separated the territories of the Dena�ina and Ahtna to the south and east from the Lower Tanana, Koyukon, and Upper Kuskokwim to the north. 

The rugged terrain did not pose a barrier to these mobile people, who carried out trade via mountain passes and sometimes over glaciers. The remains of villages, fish camps, and trails attest to the presence of Athapaskans during historic times, when 20th century explorers, trappers and miners were first coming into the Denali area. 

Their place names provide a rich context for understanding traditional patterns of subsistence and settlement across the landscape.

Archeologists have found evidence for more ancient occupation at small camp sites where hunters produced and sometimes discarded their stone tools. The age of these archeological sites is often difficult to determine exactly, unless remains of charcoal or bone from old fire hearths are discovered. 

One of the earliest sites in Interior Alaska, the Dry Creek site, is located just outside the park boundaries. The bones of large Pleistocene mammals, such as elk and bison, were found at Dry Creek, proving beyond a doubt that ancient hunters killed species of animals which eventually became extinct in Alaska. The oldest cultural level at Dry Creek was dated to about 12,000 years before present.

Perhaps the greatest influx of people, until recent park visitation, occurred during the early 1900s gold rush to the Kantishna Hills. By the early summer of 1905, prospectors Joe Quigley and Jack Horn had found gold in paying quantities in Glacier Creek. 

During the next few months the rush to Kantishna was on. Several thousand prospectors flocked to the area during the summer and fall, staking claims on every creek that heads in the Kantishna Hills, but the shallow, easily accessible gold deposits were quickly mined and the region's mining population dwindled to about 50 people by the fall. 

Fannie Quigley, whose accomplishments ranged from hunting and mining to cooking and gardening, was one of the more colorful characters to live in Kantishna.

Mountaineering is another important theme in Denali's history, as is the establishment of the original park, Mt. McKinley National Park, in 1917. Many of the historic buildings in Denali are located in the front county along with road corridor, and date to the first few decades after the park was established. 

Several cabins built as hubs for construction camps during the building of the park road (1923- 1938) were later put to use as ranger patrol cabins. The research and fieldwork of National Park Service archeologists, historians, and landscape architects continue to bring to light the details of Denali's vibrant past.

Did You Know?
Did you know that Denali National Park and Preserve is home to both black bears and grizzly (brown) bears? Black bears inhabit the forested areas of the park, while grizzly bears mainly live on the open tundra. Almost all bears seen by visitors along the Park Road are grizzlies.


 
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