By Susan Hanson
Originally appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler
Denali gets its name from the Athabascan people’s word for “the high one” – an apt name given that the 20,310-foot peak is North America’s tallest. The mountain is so massive, it generates its own weather, and the 6 million preserved acres surrounding it comprise a complete subarctic ecosystem that supports more than 850 species of flora and fauna, including grizzly bears, Dall sheep, moose, and wolves. President Carter designated the park’s taiga forest, frozen tundra, and glacial lakes an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976.
After a 40-year effort by Alaska’s native people, President Obama signed an executive order last year restoring the name Denali to the mountain from its former moniker, Mount McKinley.
“To experience some of the real Alaska, base your stay in the charming town of Talkeetna,” notes Anchorage-based Virtuoso advisor Lynda McMahon. “It’s about 150 miles to Denali, but you can take a floatplane flight into the park, landing on an alpine lake between two glaciers for a hike deep into the backcountry.”
The park sees 20 hours of daylight during summer months. Take full advantage with free daily Park Ranger-led activities, including guided hikes and sled dog demonstrations.
Your travel advisor can work with Virtuoso’s on-site national parks specialists to craft a customized tour, such as a seven-day exploration that includes hiking, canoeing, and fly-fishing in Denali’s backcountry, as well as a cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park.
See More: 7 Must-Visit U.S. National Parks
Photo Credits: (Denali Mountain) kongxinzhu/iStock, (Moose) RONSAN4D/iStock, (Glacier) undercrimson/iStock
To plan an Alaskan National Park adventure, connect with a Virtuoso travel advisor below.