Apr 20, 2007
Outside Magazine
Denali National Park

Denali National Park    Photo: PhotoDisc


>EST. 1917
>ACREAGE 4,740,912
>VISITORS 415,935(2006)

Everything about Denali is big. Home to some of North America's largest animals, including moose, caribou, and grizzly bears, the park could swallow up six Rhode Islands. Then, of course, there's Mount McKinley, the capstone of the Alaska Range and the continent's tallest peak, at 20,320 feet. The 92-mile gravel Park Road runs from the main entrance and is plied by hop-on, hop-off buses. Most private vehicles are not permitted past mile 15, though the strong-legged might consider tackling portions of it by bike.

EXPERT ADVICE: To get to the wildest parts of this beast, an aerial assault is your best option. "One place we sometimes drop people is Purkey Pile, an old mining site all the way at the west end of the park, up on the base of the Alaska Range," says Greg LaHaie, owner of Kantishna Air Taxi. "From there it's about a mile trek across tundra to get to the hills that rise up to 4,000, then 10,000-plus, feet." Most visitors spend three days exploring the glaciers, peaks, and rivers in the area before the plane comes back for them. Round-trip prices for up to four people are $1,800 from the park entrance to Purkey Pile, $900 if you're flying from Kantishna;

CRASH PAD: Recuperate from the backcountry with three days in one of 18 McKinley-view cabins at Camp Denali, 85 miles from the park entrance. Doubles, $2,610 for a minimum of three nights, including meals;

DETAILS:, 907-683-2294

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