Denali National Park & Preserve
Location and Characteristics
Denali National Park and Preserve is located in the interior area of the State of Alaska. The park and contiguous preserve encompass 6,045,153 acres (9,446 sq mi). It was previously known as as Mount McKinley National Park.
| Denali National Park
PO Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755
Website of Denali National Park at NPS
The park is centered on Denali, the highest mountain in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level. Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua.
Denali's landscape is a mix of forest at the lowest elevations, including deciduous taiga, with tundra at middle elevations, and glaciers, snow, and bare rock at the highest elevations.
Glaciers cover one million acres of Denali -- that's one-sixth of the park. Glaciers flow away from mountains, and flow from as high as 19,000 feet above sea level. The Kahiltna glacier is the longest glacier not only in the park, but in the entire Alaska Range. It spans 44 miles down the southwestern side of Denali.
Let's Visit the Park!
Denali is a bit more than 5 hours from Anchorage by car and 8 hours by the Alaska Railroad. From Fairbanks, it's 3 hours by car, and 4 hours by train.
There is only one road through Denali, the 92-mile Denali Park Road, completed in 1938. It begins at the George Parks Highway and continues to the west, ending at Kantishna.
Most travelers explore Denali by taking one of the bus tours, each of which covers varying lengths of the Park Road.
Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities, including ranger-led discovery hikes, cycling along Denali Park Road, sightseeing on a bus tour, backcountry camping or photographing the grandeur, diversity and raw beauty of one of the nation's most spectacular national parks.
Spend a day, or more, and enjoy and explore Denali National Park and Preserve!
|Map showing the location of Denali National Park & Preserve relative to other Alaska cities, parks and preserves|
Scenes from Around the Park
|The majesty of Denali National Park in Alaska (NPS)|
|Moose Creek in the spring at Denali National Park (NPS)|
Denali Visitor Center
For detailed information on Denali Visitor Centers, visit the
or phone Phone 907.683.9532
Built in 2005, the Denali Visitor Center and its surrounding "campus" are worth a stop, either at the beginning or end of your trip. It is located at Mile 1.5.
Open in summer only, this is the main visitor center near the park entrance. Here, you can watch the park film; check out a variety of exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the Denali area; and join a variety of ranger walks or talks. Backpackers may also receive their required, free permit to backpack in the park.
In fall, winter and spring, the Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) acts as the park's main visitor center.
Murie Science and Learning Center
The Murie Science and Learning Center is run by the National Park Service in partnership with Alaska Geographic and other organizations.
The Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station
A heated building, called the Indoor Picnic Area, is located next door to the Murie Center. The Indoor Picnic Area will be open 9:30 am to 5 pm daily, except on major holidays.
Eilson Visitor Center
Eielson Visitor Center, located at Mile 66, is open in summer only. The Center can be reached by most transit buses, and by the Kantishna Experience tour bus. Features include daily ranger-led programs, a small gallery of art inspired by Denali's natural wonders, and, on clear days, amazing views of Denali and the Alaska Range.
Denali Bus Depot
This summer facility is operated by a NPS concessionaire rather than by the National Park Service. It is the primary place to buy bus tickets, arrange for stays in park campgrounds, or to check in for an existing reservation.
Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station
Located in the town of Talkeetna, about 100 miles south of the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve, this ranger station serves as the center of mountaineering operations. Climbers wishing to attempt Denali or other peaks in the Alaska Range stop here first, for an orientation to the mountain and to acquire their climbing permit. This ranger station also offers some visitor services, particularly in summer. It is open year-round.
Toklat River Contact Station
Located at Mile 53 on the Park Road, all shuttle and tour buses make a stop at Toklat River except for the Denali Natural History Tour. Features include rest rooms, visitor information, and a small bookstore. The station is staffed by both the National Park Service and sales associates working for Alaska Geographic, a non-profit partner of the park service.
Getting Around in the Park
While there is only one main road in the park, there are a few side-roads around the park entrance (near the visitor center, train depot and dirt airstrip). Locations on the road are generally referred to by their mile marker as measured from the park entrance (e.g., the Denali Visitor Center is at Mile 1.5 of the road, meaning it is just 1.5 miles from the entrance).
The Denali Park Road is open to private vehicles for 14.8 miles to the Savage River Bridge. If you are here without a car, use the free Riley Creek Loop bus to travel around the entrance area.
Vehicular travel in summer to destinations farther into the park requires transit and tour bus services, for which costs vary depending on the nature of the trip. Visitors in spring or fall may find anywhere from 3 to 30 miles of the road open to drive, depending on conditions.
Bicycles and pedestrians are permitted to travel on any part of the park road, barring temporary, wildlife-related closures.
|Road tripping through Denali National Park (NPS)|
Denali National Park transportation
|End of the Road - Mile 92.5 at Denali
What Weather to Expect in Denali
Weather in Denali is extremely variable. Changes in weather often occur without warning. Many of NPS rangers tell visitors to expect sun, wind, rain, and clouds, and expect them all on the same day. Snow can fall any month of the year, particularly in the mountains.
Summer in Denali means late May through early September. Average summer temperatures range from 33 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. While rare, it has been known to snow in any summer month, so be prepared for cold weather. Wearing layers of clothing makes it easy to regulate your body temperature.
Winters can be extremely cold with temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Fahrenheit and colder, to high 20s on warm days. This kind of extreme cold typically begins by late October or early November, and runs through March.
Snow is indeed possible any month of the year, although snow that falls before mid-September tends to melt quickly. Winter snow levels are not usually sufficient for skiing or other recreation until mid-October or later.
| Expect wide variations in weather at Denali
|Autumn at Denali National Park (NPS)|
|Denali National Park and Preserve in winter (NPS)|
Things to Do and See in Denali
There is so much to do in Denali! Visitors enjoy driving the park road, the Husky Homestead, hiking, backpacking, watching wildlife, wilderness tours and much more! Denali is also one of the best places in the U.S. to watch the Aurora Borealis.
|The wide open spaces of Denali National Park ... a great place to enjoy nature, wildlife and history (NPS)|
Wildlife at Denali
For many visitors to the park, a major goal is to see, experience and photograph wildlife. Scientists have documented 39 species of mammals in Denali, but it is the five largest mammals that capture visitors' imaginations: moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and grizzly bears.
Other Alaska National Parks