Destination :: Denali National Park

  • Denali National Park: A wide river flows along a pine forest, with snow-covered Denali dominating the background.

    River Backdropped by Denali. September 2013. Image 1/9

  • Denali National Park: Pine trees rise out of fall-colored brush and are backdropped by a snow-capped mountain. Two moose are barely visible grazing among the trees.

    Moose Grazing in Fall. September 2013. Image 2/9

  • Denali National Park: A shallow river winds through a valley between two mountains, which are covered with fall=colored brush.

    River and Fall Colors. September 2013. Image 3/9

  • Denali National Park: A wide river winds along the image, with foggy mountains in the distance and a hilly plain in the foreground. Muted fall colors dominate the plain.

    River and Mountains in Fall Colors. September 2013. Image 4/9

  • Denali National Park: Bright yellow brush and pine trees grow on the lower slopes of some mountains, giving way to bare rock. A stream is just visible in the foreground.

    Mountains and River in Fall Colors. September 2013. Image 5/9

  • Denali National Park: A hint of fall-colored brush sits on mountain slopes in the foreground; more mountains are visible in the background, with mist rising off their slopes.

    Foggy Mountains. September 2013. Image 6/9

  • Denali National Park: A ptarmigan, part brown and part white, stands on a brown tussock, surrounded by branches that have a few yellow leaves clinging to them.

    Ptarmigan in Fall. September 2013. Image 7/9

  • Denali National Park: A small pond sits surrounded by yellow brush and pine trees, which are also visible reflected in the pond.

    Pine Trees Reflected in Pond. September 2013. Image 8/9

  • Denali National Park: Gray rocks and a formation cover the top 1/2 of a hill while red and orange brush cover the lower 1/2.

    Rock Structure in Fall Colors. September 2013. Image 9/9

Denali National Park in Alaska is home to Denali, North America’s tallest mountain at over 19,000 feet. It is one of the largest national parks in the United States and offers visitors the opportunity to view stunning scenery and wildlife.

Brief History

7,000 years ago
Earliest human use of the area within modern-day park boundaries per archaeological evidence.1
The Alaska Gold Rush brings the first Europeans into proximity with the park area.
Frank Densmore, traveling from Tanana to the Kuskokwim drainage, is so taken with the mountain that his peers name it "Densmore’s Mountain" after him.
January 24, 1897
William A. Dickey publishes an article about his exploration of the Alaska Range; he is the first to name the mountain Mount McKinley.
The USGS and US Army send five different expeditions into the area; one of the expeditions was likely the first European group to enter the boundaries of the present-day park.
The first non-Native Americans attempt to climb Denali; James Wickersham, the U.S. District Judge for Alaska, suggests the area be preserved for future generations.
Charles Sheldon visits and spends time living in the area; on January 12, 1908, he makes a diary entry in which he first conceives of Denali National Park.
March 12, 1914
Congress passes the Alaska Railroad Act, causing Sheldon to worry that area game would be wiped out by hunters supporting the railroad building effort. His fears spur him to advocate for the creation of a national park.
February 26, 1917
President Wilson establishes Mt. McKinley National Park, protecting 1.6 million acres.2
December 1, 1978
Denali National Monument is established.
December 2, 1980
Mt. McKinley National Park and Denali National Monument are incorporated into the newly established Denali National Park and Denali National Preserve.
December 2, 1980
Nearly two million acres are designated Denali Wilderness.
January 30, 1922
The park boundary is changed.
March 19, 1932
The park boundary is changed.
The park is designated a Biosphere Reserve.3


United States




The vast majority of the park is undeveloped, making it a back country hiker/camper’s paradise. Vehicle travel into most of the park is limited to scheduled bus tours and the trail network is small, but the stunning scenery and abundance of wildlife make any visit worthwhile.

Visits: 1 Visited: September 2013

Quick Statistics

6,075,028+ acres4
Approx. 36 miles of trails + backcountry hiking5
587,412 (2016)6


  1. Unless otherwise noted, information about the park and park history is from Crown Jewel of the North-Volume 1, NPS.
  2. Information about various establishment dates and park boundary changes from National Parks: Index 2012-2016, NPS.
  3. "Denali," UNESCO.
  4. Listing of Acreage, NPS.
  5. Annual Visitation Report, NPS.
  6. According to the NPS, established trail length is purposefully limited in order to encourage back country exploration.


  • Annual Visitation Report by Years: 2006 to 2016. NPS Stats. Accessed December 12, 2017. Link.
  • Crown Jewel of the North-Volume 1. National Park Service. 2006. Accessed October 15, 2017. Link.
  • "Denali." Biosphere Reserves. UNESCO. November 2015. Accessed October 15,2017. Link.
  • "Hiking." Denali National Park. National Park Service. October 13, 2017. Accessed October 15, 2017. Link.
  • Listing of Acreage (Summary). NPS Stats. December 31, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2017. Link.
  • The National Parks: Index 2012-2016. National Park Service. 2016. Accessed November 16, 2017. Link.