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Denali National Park & Preserve Alaska

Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska, 3-15 August days  Map

Overview Each spring the parks service begins clearing the 92-mile Park Road into Denali. They typically start in March. There are still many delays every year though because of blizzards and deep snow and now budget cuts have made things even worse.

picture of land of giants in denai alaska

Picture of campers in Ruth Gorge. Most serious climbers in North America consider the Ruth Gorge to be one of the top climbing destinations to complete before calling it quits. Outdoor Activities include:


Camping There are no established campsites in the Denali backcountry so it is very important to have some skills in this area. Know how to properly choose and setup the kind of stable warm base camp you will need thoughout your time here. The rules right from the park service website are: Your tent must be at least 1/2 mile away from and out of site of, the Park Road and all developed areas, including Wonder Lake. Camp on durable surfaces like gravel river bars. Do not damage fragile tundra. In Denali never camp where others have. Do not move rocks or plants. Leave Denali National Park & Preserve as you found it so that no other person sees the signs of your having been there.

Cooking Fires are not permitted in the Denali Wilderness in the summer. I know it sounds crazy up here where it's cold and there is so much snow but that's the way it is. Use a portable camp stove like the one shown in the Vanabode book to cook food. Fires are possible here so be careful utting one out could prove impossible.

Sometimes there is free fuel at the visitor center from previous campers who have left behind white gas or the threaded, self-sealing propane canisters. When cooking or bathing with any kind of scented soaps, watch for interested bears. If they show up move out, come back later it they are not stalking you and reclaim your belongings. Take a different route each time between your food storage, cooking and sleeping areas to help prevent small trails from developing.

picture of morino grill in denali alaska

Picture of the Morino Grill which is near the visitor's center. They have a box lunch service as well as made to order lunch or dinner and serves coffee all day for those hanging out inside all day.

Drinking Water Giardia and Cryptosporidium are protozoa found in unfiltered water and present serious health risks. Take one or more of the following precautions before drinking water from a natural source: Boil for 1 minute. Use a water filter. Treat with iodine tablets. Many of Denali's rivers carry glacial silt. This silt will quickly clog any water filter and render it inoperable. The addition of silt-stopper devices is highly recommended for any water filter. Using chemicals (like iodine) to treat water doesn't always work against some protozoa. Why? Because it requires much longer to work if the water is full of cold sediment.

picture of lynx in denali alaska


Image shows a lynx. Everybody wants to see one of these as they are very reclusive. Denali National Park and Preserve Alaska is one of the best places to see them though becuase you can see thier tracks and often wait there and watch for a day or two until the return.

Backcountry Sanitation can be complicated here. No toilets of any kind are here in this wild place. You should be prepared to handle your waste: You can dig a hole at least 8 inches deep for fecal waste in dark mulch like soil. Do not bury in sand or on rocky beaches. Any waste hole must be at least 100 feet away from any water source. Put used toilet paper and sanitation items in sealed plastic bags, place them in a sealed bear proof container. Later of course take it with you when you leave.

Packrafting in Denali Travel by packraft can be super fun adn you will see alot. Don't expect it to be much easier than hiking though but it will allow you to see more faster. In Denali you can combine overnight hikes with packrafting. I would not do it here it you are abeginner though, the risks are just too great.

You must have the time and flexibility to make quick changes. Any overnight trip is subject to the availability of the unit quota system. River conditions change quickly and hourly so planning becomes very difficult. Your backcountry ranger is your best bet when undertaking this kind of adventure. Packrafts can be rented in Anchorage or Seward, Alaska. Practice the skills needed for packrafting on easier rivers back home with the same partner you plan on hitting Alaka with. Even with today's GPS systems you should never packraft or go boating alone.

Image shows huskies pulling a sled during the winter. The sled dogs have always been part of the park experince. They are indespinsivbke. The dogs help rangers patrol much of the two-million acres of wilderness where mechanized vehicles are prohibited. The dogs of Denali help contact winter visitors, transport wildlife researchers, haul supplies, and insure no illegal activities are happening in the park, like poaching or snow machines entering into the wilderness area.

These are the only sled dogs in the United States that help protect a national park and technically work for the goernment. Denali National Park and Preserve staff typically has 28 to 30 dogs at it's disposal.

The Alaskan husky is the primary dog of choice here because of the indomitable game they posses to pull. They have a thick two-layer coat of fur, long legs, and a great personality so they are ideal for this harse cold land. They are bred for performance rather than an AKC appearance standard and will fight wolves if necessary to protect thier pack and owners.



Mountain Biking is possible here but most just stay on the roads since they are so rugged as well. I think they are a bad idea here and not worht the hassle, just hike it.

If you do travel Park Road by bike and camp outside established campgrounds get a backcountry permit at the Backcountry Information Center before leaving the ranger station. Camp at least 1/2 mile from the road with your tent out of view of the road. Camper buses can handle 2 bikes each if you wand to use the buses to move your bikes along the road instead of trying to peddle for days.

If you keep your bicycle overnight in the wilderness it must be at least 75 feet from the road and out of sight. Mark the bikes with group name, backcountry permit number and date that they will be picked up or else the rangers may dispose of them. Animals will tear your seat up too because they like the salty sweat that accumulates on seats and handlebars. Gross I know but one more reason still shy I do not recommend them here.

Vanabode Special Notes: Even though Alaska is extraordinary and Vanabode offers the absolute safest, easiest, cheapest, and fastest ground transportation method of getting there, I cannot recommend it. It is too rugged and wild and the inclement weather is often devastating. If you do travel during the very warmest months do serious planning and research so that your van is outfitted for Alaska's extreme temperature swings, rain and bugs among Denali National Park Preserve Alaska.

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