Monday, August 6, 2012

Alaskan Adventure Awaits in Denali National Park

Denali National Park (DNP) lies in the very heart of Alaska:  Six million acres of beautiful Alaskan Interior wilderness accessed by a single road, and home to the tallest peak in North America.  Since 1917, park visitors have been enjoying amazing beauty, outdoor adventure, amazing wildlife encounters, and life-changing experiences.  Denali is a reasonable destination from almost every part of the state, making it possible for just about any visitors to our state to have their own Denali experience.  Member inns of the Bed and Breakfast Association of Alaska recommend a visit to the park during your getaway to our great land.

Getting to the Park -There are many options to choose from for accessing the park:
  • By Car - If you'd like to drive, the George Parks Highway (Route 3) between Fairbanks and Anchorage will get you to the one road that goes into Denali Park.  This road is only open through mile 14 to automobiles.  If you want to drive all the way through, you can have a chance to be one of the 400 cars allowed during each of just four days by entering into the yearly Denali Road Lottery for that chance.  Please note that there is a chance that the road could close for weather at any time - including on a day you've won a lottery spot!
  • By Train - Alaska Railroad provides service to the park during the summer from both Fairbanks and Anchorage.
  • By Bus - A number of tour operators provide summer service to the park.
  • By Helicopter/Bus - The option is available that you can take a helicopter into the park to Kantishna, and return by bus... or vice versa.  This is a unique travel option that is enjoyed by many.
What to do while you're here.
Denali IS a national park, offering many similar activities as National Parks in the lower 49 states.  But this is an ALASKA National Park, which means there are many considerations while you visit, and many unique activities you can try while you're here.

  • Wildlife - Do we even need to mention the bears?  Grizzlies consider Denali their home, and there is always the chance of encountering one.  You can't walk, run, or even cycle faster than a bear, so be outside at your own risk.  You may also encounter moose, elk, caribou, wolves and a number of small mammals.  The general guide is to get no closer than 25 yards from most wildlife (except for bears which you want to stay as far away from as humanly possible)!
  • Mosquitos - these annoyances can be extreme in DNP during the summer.  Woe to the visitors who forget the bug spray...
Offered onsite:
  • See the Sled Dogs - Denali is the only Park that have official dogs to help protect and navigate the park.
  • Day Hikes - Most Denali trails are within reach from the Denali Visitor Center.  Those that are not can be accessed by shuttle bus from the Visitor Center.  They are considered "easy to moderate" in difficulty, and there are ADA accessible options.
  • Cycling - The Denali Park Road is a perfect option for those who enjoy bicycling, and bikes are allowed on all 92 miles of the park road.  Bicycles are allowed on park roads, parking areas, campground loops, and the designated Bike Trail that starts at the Visitor Center.  Bikes may be transported via shuttle to a deeper part of the park, if you wish.
Offered offsite:
  • Helicoptor onto a Glacier - This tour offers a 75-minute experience.  Land on the glacier, enjoy spectacular views while flying, andsee ice falls, ice bridges, glacier streams, glacial ice pools, and wildlife while on the glacier! 
  • Whitewater Rafting - many outfitters outside the park offer trips into Denali.
  • Flightseeing - A chance to see the park by prop plane, small jet plane, or chopper.
  • Zipline Tours - Explore the park from the treetops!
  • Horseback Tours - See views of Denali by horseback.
  • ATV Tours - Just outside the park, these tours let you see more of the land within a few thousand feet of the actual park.
Other:  Many people want to see The Magic Bus, where Chris McCandless stayed in in the book Into the Wilderness.  This is on Stampede Road, just north of the DNP.  Please note that you can drive the first 12.5 miles to the bus, but you will be hiking the last 13 or so miles, which includes swamp and stream crossings, as well a crossing the Teklinika River.  Crossing the Tek can be very dangerous, so proceed at your own risk.  And of course, you'll also have to return to your vehicle!

Because DNP is such an amazing Alaska resource, we fully recommend a visit while you're here.  Your B&B innkeeper can give you more information, suggestions, and tips about DNP - just ask!


Marc Zee said...

There are so many exciting options when visiting Denali National Park. The scenery of this beautiful outdoors is amazing. These are all some really great options, I would love to pursue the great adventures you suggest. everything ranging from white water rafting to ziplining; however the helicopter ride onto a glacier would be pretty high on my priority list. What an amazing photo opportunity that would be. My name is Marc, and aside from wanting to take a chopper onto a glacier, I also work for Bescover -- where we love all things B&B! It's truly a privilege being a part of your online community. Nice blog.

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