Denali in the native Athabascan language means, “the great one” and its south peak rises to 20,310 feet above sea level. It is in the Alaska Range and is the highest peak in North America. This great mountain is surrounded by one of the largest national parks in the country. What many people do not know is that Denali National Park was not created for the mountain, but actually for a close relative of the rocky mountain sheep called Dall’s sheep. Their primary habitat is up on the foothills of Denali, and the park was set up to protect these wild sheep. Denali is home to countless other species including grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and wolves.
There is only one road into to the back of the park, called the Denali Park Road. A series of buses is able to take you from the park entrance to Kantishna, which is more than 90 miles into the park. They stop along the way for various overlooks and visitors center, and for any sort of wildlife viewing. We saw a grizzly bear sow with her cubs on two separate occasions and a group of caribou foraging on a riverbed. This ride also has amazing views of various river systems and foothills.
We spent our stay in Denali hiking on ridges surrounding the lodge and practicing photography on local landmarks. These include Wonder Lake which gives panoramic views of the Alaska Range and Reflection Pond in which Mt. Denali is reflected. They are surrounded by a great variety of plant life like the Monkshood which can stop your heart instantly if ingested. The diversity and beauty of Denali make it one of the most beautiful mountains and reserves on the planet.