Denali Ranger Kris Fister, a 30-year veteran of the National Park Service, and a Camp Denali Lodge naturalist share some fascinating stories and things to look for along the Denali Park Road.
Points of Interest
Although most viewpoints along the Park Road can only be accessed by private tour buses or park shuttle buses, you can drive to this viewpoint (the first 15 miles are open to private vehicles). The dense spruce forest opens up here, giving you the first view of Denali, as it is called in the native Athabaskan language (formerly Mt. McKinley). The mountain is roughly 72 miles away and you’re only seeing the top 8,000 feet or so. Still, it’s a ...more
This informal hiking area begins at the Primrose rest area and heads up a gentle ridge until you reach the bench, which provides panoramic views of the park. Wildflowers are abundant in this area and usually peak between July 20 and August 10.
Igloo Creek is one of three tent-only campgrounds in the park. Situated right next to the creek, it is a great place to relax and enjoy the wilderness and the area around the campground offers great hiking opportunities.
A great place to catch a glimpse of Dall Sheep, Igloo Mountain is also where the first dinosaur tracks in the park were discovered. You can see them yourself, if you go on one of the many easy day hikes that start here.
Sable Pass on the Denali Park Road is a wildlife hotspot. The area is designated as critical grizzly bear country in Denali National Park, so it is permanently closed in order to protect wildlife.
Polychrome Pass gets it’s name from the colorful volcanic rocks that you can see from the overlook, but the name could also be applied to the colorful vegetation, streams, mountains and glaciers that make this spot unique. This high overlook is a great spot to watch bears, moose and caribou from far enough away that you won’t risk disturbing them.
Caribou trails weave back and forth across the alpine slopes above Stony Hill. These trails are evidence of the seasonal migration patterns of Denali’s caribou. Find out why caribou undertake this migration, and where you can expect to find them depending on the season. Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilderness Lodge.
This is the most photographed view of Denali (Mt. McKinley) from the road. You’re up high, at the edge of a mountain pass, and there’s alpine tundra all around, with the road snaking towards the mountain in the foreground. And this is the first spot where you can see the whole mountain from base to summit. On clear days, Tundra Wilderness Tours will extend their trip several miles just to reach this spot. Stony Hill is also a great place to… ...more
The grizzly bears of Denali can be found feeding in almost every corner of Denali National Park. Early to mid summer, these bears can be often observed from Thorofare Pass. What draws these adaptable and persistent omnivores to this high alpine environment? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilderness Lodge.
The fall moose rut is an unforgettable part of the interior Alaska fall. In Denali, the Eielson visitor center gives visitors a year round window into this dramatic event through the display of two sets of interlocked moose antlers. How did these antlers become locked, and what likely happened to the two unlucky bull moose? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilderness Lodge. ...more
On a clear day, this stretch of the park road offers unparalleled views of Denali and the other high granitic peaks of the central Alaska Range. What role do glaciers play in carving out the ever growing shape of this mountain range? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilderness Lodge.
Wonder Lake is a somewhat unlikely lake. Learn how the lake was formed, and what makes it so unique.
There is gold in the hills above the historic settlement of Kantishna. A comparatively small gold rush in this part of Alaska indirectly foretells the establishment of the original Mt. McKinley National Park. How did mining activity nearly push wildlife populations to the brink? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilderness Lodge.