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Denali National Park: Weekender

Six million acres of stunning wilderness await in Alaska's Denali National Park.

a moose on display at the Denali Visitor Center, image
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Photo: Mark Weidman Photography/Alamy
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Get close to local wildlife at the Denali Visitor Center.

In this 6-million-acre park, you can spot grizzly cubs beside their mothers, Dall sheep climbing across hillsides, and lanky moose plucking willows—all in one day.

To Do and See Denali Visitor Center At the park entrance, nature exhibits reveal some weird truths: Did you know that wood frogs freeze and thaw during winter and that blood siphoned by biting mosquitoes aids the survival of plants? Shuttle buses Step off the hop-on, hop-off shuttles at scheduled stops to hike on paths such as the Eielson Alpine Trail, which zigzags up to panoramic views of Mount McKinley. Mt. McKinley Glacier Landing On this “flightseeing” tour, you’ll soar in a fixed-wing plane among stonefaced peaks. Canyon Run Plunge through icy rapids on a two-hour rafting tour along the forested Nenana River.

Shopping Denali Arts & Glass Studio This funky store in Glitter Gulch—the boardwalk of stores near the park entrance—is packed with sparkling glass assemblages and hand-crocheted scarves. Denali General Store Take home some essence of Alaska: packets of fresh smoked salmon and zesty wild game sausages. (907) 683-2920. Three Bears Gallery Check out spooky Native Alaskan spirit masks and fantastical carved whalebone totems. (907) 683-3343.

Eats Black Bear Coffee House This hangout has two locations to pick up a coffee and cookie for the bus ride into the park. 229 Parks Restaurant and Tavern This hot spot in a wood-timbered house serves dishes made with ultrafresh local produce, such as smashed purple potatoes and roasted fruit tart. Tonglen Lake Lodge The café at this upscale  lodge features scones with bacon and dates or apricots and ginger. 

This article was first published in July 2014 and updated in February 2019. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.