Denali (Mount McKinley) is the tallest peak in North America.
Srikanth Jandy, flickr
Denali National Park and Preserve, located in Interior Alaska, is home to pristine wilderness, diverse wildlife and world class outdoor recreation opportunities.
The park encompasses more than 6 million acres of wild lands and is centered around Denali (also known as Mount McKinley), whose summit towers 20,320 feet above sea level. Every year, the mountain rises even higher by around 0.039 inches, due to the continued convergence of the North American and Pacific Plates. Denali is primarily made of granite, a hard rock that does not erode easily, which is why it has retained such a great height rather than being eroded.
Photo: Frank Kovalchek, flickr
On December 2, 1980, U.S. Congress designated 2,146,580 acres as Denali Wilderness within the park.
Stunning and diverse geography throughout the preserve make this place a must-see destination for wilderness lovers. Various altitudes throughout the park result in tundra at middle elevations, and glaciers, rock and snow at the highest elevations. A stand of white spruce growing on a lower slope of Denali is called the Drunken Forest because of the oddly leaning trees which seem to look "drunk." This appearance is caused by sliding soil beneath them, due to Pleistocene-age permafrost and freeze-thaw oscillations that occur due to differences in temperature, vegetation and hydrology.
Photo: Denali NPS, flickr
Grizzly bears, caribou, gray wolves, moose, martens, snowshoe hares and many other animal species thrive within the preserve, thanks to Denali park rangers who maintain a constant effort to keep the wildlife wild by limiting interaction between humans and park animals. Over 450 species of flowering plants fill the park and can be viewed in bloom throughout summer.
WATCH: Footage of a Grant Creek's resident gray wolf pack in Denali National Park and Preserve.
Video: alaskavideopostcard, YouTube
People who wish to visit this popular attraction should note that private vehicles are only allowed on the first 18 miles of the park’s only road. The rest of this amazing wilderness is accessible by tour or shuttle bus, bicycle or on foot. Spend a day riding in and out of the park on a bus or make arrangements to do some backpacking or camping for a few nights and then catch a bus back to the park entrance.
The Wilderness Society is working directly with local communities and federal agencies to protect Alaska's wildlands, by influencing national policy and legislation that impacts these wild places.