For many people, the vast Denali National Park, covering 9,375 sq mi/24,280 sq km between Anchorage and Fairbanks, is the highlight of a trip to Alaska. It's a truly spectacular area, featuring the majestic 20,320-ft/6,299-m Mount McKinley (many Alaskans prefer the Tanaina name, Denali), the tallest mountain in North America. More than 155 species of birds and 37 species of mammals, including Dall sheep, caribou, grizzly bears, moose and wolves, inhabit the park. The landscape is at its most verdant during July and August. There are beautiful fall colors (and fewer travelers) in early September.
The park is best seen as a three-night stop, especially if you are taking the train between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Mid-May to mid-September, the park offers interpretive talks and walks with guides, and all-day bus tours take visitors deep into the park. Be aware that the park road is restricted to tour- and shuttle-bus traffic for most of its 90-mi/145-km length. Book bus tours in advance: They fill up fast. Other park activities and facilities include fishing, river rafting, horseback riding and dogsledding demonstrations. Backcountry permits are available.
Reservations need to be made months in advance to stay at the park's single lodge. Other lodging is available just outside the park's entrance, where you will also find restaurants and private parks for recreational vehicles.
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