This Park and Preserve is located in central
Alaska and encompasses
more then six million acres. Denali is
the highest mountain in North America towering
into the sky at 20,310 feet. The
mountain is primarily made of granite, a hard rock that’s virtually erosion
free. The landscape is a mix of forests,
tundra, glaciers, rock and snow at the highest elevations.
Glaciers cover about 16% of the park. The longest glacier in the park is Kahiltna, which is 30 miles long. It’s a south facing glacier like most of the ones in the park. This is due to more snow being dropped on this side of the mountain because of moisture-bearing winds from the
Denali means the “high
one” in native Athabaskan language. The
mountain was renamed Mt McKinley in 1897 in honor of the newly elected
president, William McKinley. President
Wilson signed a bill creating Mt McKinley National Park in 1917, but in 1980
the park was combined with the wilderness area surrounding it and it became and Preserve. The mountain was changed back to its original
name of Denali National
Park Denali on August 15, 2015 by President
There’s a Denali Fault that runs some 720 miles long under the area and connects up with the famous San Andrea’s Fault in
California. Over 600 earthquakes occur in the park each
year. Most of the earthquakes are small,
but two large ones hit in October and November 2002 that caused numerous
Some of the sediments making up the rocks in the park show signs of ocean and marine environments. This leads one to think that the area was once a warm tropical climate, approximately 300 million years ago, because of the abundance of marine fossils found. Now, isn’t that interesting?
Today 400 thousand people visit the park annually. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, dog sledding and snowmobiling. Other features include a visitor’s center, bookstore, restaurant, science and learning center, a railroad depot and
. McKinley National
Private area vehicles are prohibited in large portions of the park but there are tour buses available to center portions of the park. Some of the roads run alongside sheer cliffs that drop down hundreds of feet with no guard rails. Because of the dangers involved most of the gravel roads are only one-lane wide. Drivers must be trained to navigate them and to yield to oncoming tour buses.
There are four camping areas located in the interior of the park. There’s no TV’s or cell service in the area.
Visitors who want to climb
must obtain a permit and go through an orientation process. This information can be found in the ranger
station at Talkeeetna Alaska,
about 100 miles south of the park. The
ranger station is open year round and is the center for mountaineering
The northern range of
is still solidly frozen year round. This
is called permafrost. Some of the
permafrost in Denali lies under the upper
layer that does thaw out at times. This
layer that freezes and thaws can be one-inch to ten-feet deep. The permafrost under it can be between 30 and
100 feet thick depending on the section of the park. A stand of white spruce on the lower slope is
known as the because the trees
lean due to the sliding soil beneath them.
The soil slides because of freezing and thawing. Drunken
Long winters are followed by short growing seasons. Eighty percent of the birds return in the summer to raise their young and the mammal’s spend most of the time raising young and gathering food for winter. Summers are cool and damp, but 70 degrees is not unheard of, even though weather is unpredictable and sometimes it can snow in August.
When camping, it’s best to view animals from a safe distance and to keep food in bear-proof containers. Sometimes areas of the park can be closed while wolves are in their dens, or there is other unusual animal activity.
Most of this information is from Wikipedia.