Perhaps one of the most stunning and beautiful national parks in the United States is Denali. Formerly known as Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, the word Denali means “High” in the native Athabaskan language. This is true considering that the summit of Denali reaches 20,194 XNUMX feet. Denali is the third largest peak on Earth, and it is so large that it even creates its own local weather. On most days, the summit of Denali is shrouded in clouds and contains some of the harshest weather on the planet.
While Denali is in the middle of a nature preserve, Denali’s wilderness area includes 6 million acres of tundra, northern forests, lakes and glaciers, about the size of the state of New Hampshire. Denali is a seasonal attraction. Dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and skiing are available in the winter.
Some areas of the park are monitored depending on the severity of winter conditions. Denali’s annual minimum temperature during the winter months is about -39.0 Fahrenheit. Along with the cold, the farther north into the interior, the less daylight they receive. Travelling to Denali in the winter is not easy and not for the faint of heart.
By far the best time to book a trip to Denali is late spring and all summer. From late May to early September, the weather in Denali is moderate and satisfactory for those not familiar with such extreme weather conditions. There are just as many activities in the summer, from hiking, camping, wildlife watching, ATV riding, camping and rafting. Be sure to take mosquito repellent with you, no matter what you do during your stay in Denali. Mosquitoes swarm this time of year as all the permafrost, snow and ice melts and thaws, creating an overabundance of bodies of water in which mosquitoes can breed and hatch.
While enjoying the vast but finite beauty of North America’s highest mountain, take time to also appreciate the local people who have lived on the slopes of Denali for thousands of years. Human habitation in and around Denali dates back some 11,000 years. There is not much evidence in the park itself to support the idea that the indigenous peoples of the region settled in the park because of the high altitude and harsh winter months.
The oldest monument of antiquity found within the park is a section of the Teklanika River, dating back to 7,130 XNUMX B.C. Although the Denali is sacred to all Athabaskan peoples, it is more a haven for some of Alaska’s most pristine wildlife, from grizzly bears, caribou, wolves, lynx, white-tailed eagles and even foxes to the very profitable wolverines. Journeying through the vast interior of Alaska for The High One puts everything in perspective. Once you look at the mountains, each one taller than the last, our limited lives and all the stresses and strife associated with them seem insignificant compared to the scale of the earth.