McKinley to Denali: Visiting America’s Most Talked About Mountain

Denali, Alaska, Mountain peaks

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s  Tailwind blog on September 4th.

Denali, McKinley, Mountain, American mountains, Alaska

In advance of his three-day trip to Alaska, where he will advocate for more urgent action on climate change, President Obama officially changed the name of the tallest mountain in North America. Known to Alaskan natives for centuries as Denali (a native word meaning “the high one”), the 20,237’ peak was renamed after assassinated President William McKinley in 1917. Obama may get to experience Alaska in the company of renowned survivalist Bear Grylls (who is not, in fact, a bear), but there’s plenty of adventure to be had without him.

The Last Frontier, Alaska, Denali

Approaching The Last Frontier

When the destination is America’s last great frontier, getting there is ideally half the fun. The most populated place in Alaska is Anchorage, a 6-hour drive from even further-isolated Fairbanks, and a 21-hour drive from the state capitol, Juneau. Air travel is the cheapest and most efficient way to get to Anchorage. Home to roughly 300,000 people, Anchorage is a fabulous hub for outdoor excursions. Lodging exists for every budget, from backpackers looking for an affordable bed and a shower, to couples seeking a cozy B&B, or posh patrons in pursuit of pillows and pampering. Fairbanks, roughly 120 miles north of Denali National Park, also has a great variety of lodging options available, including a number of B&Bs and more luxurious spots.

More adventurous types can charter an air-taxi to Talkeetna, roughly halfway between Anchorage and Denali National Park. Travelers interested in a more leisurely wilderness journey have many train and cruise-ship options available. Juneau, the state’s capital, may be 10 times less-populated than Anchorage, but it’s the 2nd-largest city by area in the US, and its location in the islands of the Alaskan panhandle makes it a popular destination for cruise ships.

Grizzly Bear, north america, alaska, denali national park

Venture Into The Last Frontier

While known for its native culture, most visitors flock to the state for one thing: pristine, unimpeded wilderness.

  • Denali National Park
    Only the most intrepid and experienced mountain climbers tackle the namesake summit at the heart of this National Park, but more casual visitors can experience the grandeur of the park from the (mostly unpaved) road system, either by bike, car, bus, or (bravely) on foot.
  • Wildlife Tours
    Native wildlife is a huge draw to the Last Frontier, including moose, caribou, eagles, salmon, beluga whales, and bears (polar, brown, and black (not Grylls)). Native plants and flowers flourish here as well.
  • The Midnight Sun
    Nearly a third of Alaska lies above the Arctic circle, so during summer months, daylight hours extend nearly round the clock. A winter visit will be much less crowded, cheaper (and much colder), and opportunities to see the Northern Lights abound. Visit in March, and witness the start of the Iditarod, the 1,000-mile dogsled race unlike anything else in the United States.

Denali, Alaska, Mountains

The raw beauty and awe-inspiring spread of Alaska is unparalleled below the 49th Parallel. It has drawn in recluses, dreamers, adventurers, and sitting Presidents. Names could never do it justice, but it’s easier than ever to make a visit!

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9 thoughts on “McKinley to Denali: Visiting America’s Most Talked About Mountain

  1. @spiritofdragonflies Wow…lucky you… saw them out in the wild! Absolutely agree with you that we need to act sensibly to protect and care for the wildlife. Thank you so much for sharing your childhood experience. Enjoyed reading. 🙂

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    1. Hahaa… no I see them in the photo only 🙂 because this is a syndicated post originally from the Hipmunk blog which is a nice read and I thought worth sharing. However, I would love to see these magnificent wild creatures in my eyes someday.

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      1. Maybe not see one of these magnificent wild creatures too close. When I was a child we drove up north to my brother-in-law’s family camp – back in the sixties the area was less populated and large metal garbage cans were located along the road so it would not be unusual to see a bear rummaging through the garbage cans. One time we saw a mother bear with her baby balanced on the edge of the can. It was great but we always respected them and kept our distance. People didn’t downhill ski as much and there weren’t as many wealthy people building large second or third homes in the mountains. It is really sad to see the destruction that is taking place in the ‘forever wild’ Adirondack Mountains. We would also go to sit near the dump up at dusk to watch the bear. haha It was entertainment. We didn’t have TV, cable, internet, cell phones. Eventually they had to post the area to prohibit people from visiting because they were getting out of their cars to take photos. Apparently some people are so familiar with animals being behind bars in the zoo that they don’t realize these magnificent wild creatures can kill or maim them. I love just knowing they are still out there free to roam the woods – what is left of the woods anyway. Love to the wildlife may it remain a viable part of our world. Love and Light!

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