Expanse of Denali National Park

One of the amazing things about Denali National Park is its expansiveness, which becomes even more apparent when you hike up any of the mountains within the park. If you reach a peak, all you see in every direction are mountains, mountains, and more mountains, with valleys and rivers down below. And unless you’re near the entrance, the visitor’s center within the park, or near the park road, it’s likely that there isn’t another person in sight. It is an inspiring yet peaceful experience to be surrounded by so much untouched nature with such incredible views, yet to have the quiet solitude that visits to most popular national parks don’t offer.

Expansive views of Denali National Park

The 30%

As I mentioned in a previous post, only 30% of visitors to Denali National Park get to see the mountain for which the park is named. We were lucky to see the mountain all 3 days we were there. Knowing how unpredictable the weather can be in Alaska and how uncommon it is for Denali to be visible, I took every opportunity to capture moments when Denali was in sight, not knowing if the clouds would roll in at any moment. This started in the morning from the deck of the B&B in Talkeetna where we had stayed the night before to break up the drive from Seward to Denali National Park. And continued when we arrived at the scenic overlook along the highway where this photo was taken from. And continued some more when we arrived at the park. My wife thought I was crazy, not believing Denali that being visible was that uncommon. It wasn’t until we were in one of the souvenir shops and she saw one of the “I was among the 30%” t-shirts that she actually believed me.

View of Denali off in the sunset from a scenic overlook along the highway.

Denali: The High One

Denali National Park & Preserve

Denali National Park & Preserve is one of my favorite national parks.  Located 4 hours north of Anchorage, Alaska, the park is a great place to visit after an Alaskan cruise or combined with a visit to the Kenai Peninsula (a couple hours south of Anchorage) on a land-based vacation.  At over 6 million-acres the park is huge, though only a small percentage of the park is easily accessible.  The single road which goes into the park is the 91-mile Denali Park Road.  Private vehicles are only allowed on the first 15 miles of this mostly dirt road.  To go further into the park, one must take one of the park shuttle buses.  While some may consider this an inconvenience, once you’re in the park it is just you, the others on the bus, and and endless nature in every direction.  This is a nice contrast to some of the national parks on the mainland United States that feature traffic jams resembling rush hour traffic, making it hard to enjoy the beautiful scenery.  In addition to awe-inspiring vistas, the park provides a great opportunity to see animals like moose, caribou, and bears in their natural environment.

The High One

The word Denali means “the high one” in native Athabaskan, an appropriate name for a mountain with a height of 20,156 feet.  Often hidden behind the clouds, only 30% of visitors to the park get to see the mountain for which the park is named.  We were very lucky and had views of Denali all three days we visited.  This photo was taken from one of the stops the shuttle buses make during their journey down Denali Park Road.  The winding dirt road serves as a perfect leading line to guide the eyes towards the mountain and the smaller mountains on either side frame Denali nicely.  With scenery like this, it’s hard to take a bad photo in Denali National Park.