• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain

    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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  • Road Open To: Mile 3 (Park Headquarters)

    The Park Road is currently open to Mile 3, Park Headquarters. Wintry conditions beyond that point prevent vehicle travel, though pedestrian travel is permitted. More »

Nature and Science

Explore Denali's Natural Features
Denali showcases and protects 6 million acres (2.4 million hectares) of subarctic ecosystems with many outstanding natural features. Explore the top ten natural features (somewhat subjective list) with links to more information, or use the links below to investigate the nature and science of this special place.
 
Research in the Park
Denali is a laboratory for research on many topics from A to Z (air quality to zoology). Each year, resource staff discover new findings about the plants, animals, and ecosystems of the park through short-term or long-term inventory, monitoring, and research projects. Other researchers from near and far submit proposals to conduct studies in the park. These projects are reviewed for their suitability for a national park. Whether you are curious to learn about the results of research about the park's creatures and ecosystems or are a prospective researcher wanting more information, there are extensive resources available: basic information on how to conduct research, a variety of information about natural resources and research results, or a quick look at many research results through a series of more than 60 nature and science fact sheets.
 
Biological Science - Wildlife, Plants, and More
Denali has a diversity of wildlife, that includes 39 documented species of mammals, 169 species of birds, 14 species of fish, and one species of amphibian. Learn more about wildlife in Denali.

You can't view the slopes and valleys of Denali without being introduced to some of the more than 650 species of flowering plants that collectively create the vegetation of the park. These plants provide cover and food for many animals. Only plants adapted to long, cold winters and short growing seasons can survive in this subarctic wilderness. Learn more about plants in Denali.

Read more about Denali's lesser known, but important other life forms: mosses, lichens, fungi and algae.
 

Earth Sciences - Geology, Glaciers and More
From the rock underpinnings of iconic, snow-covered Mount McKinley (Denali) to the glaciers that cover almost 15 percent of the park's land area, the earth sciences are well represented in Denali. Permafrost underlies some of the park. Trace fossils are pressed in ancient rocks. It is hard to miss seeing the vast landscape of the Alaska Range. The landscape is not static--as landslides, glacially-fed braided rivers, and moving glaciers attest. There are also human impacts on the land, such as changes in air quality (air-borne contaminants) and climate. Learn more about the earth sciences in Denali.

 

Social Science
Researchers also study visitors to Denali--they conduct surveys of willing visitors to learn about what visitors expect from their park visit and what they experience and do while in the park. Learn more about social science and the Denali visitor experience.

Did You Know?

grizzly bear silhouetted against sky

Denali is home to both black bears and grizzly (brown) bears. Black bears inhabit the forested areas of the park, while grizzly bears mainly live on the open tundra. Almost all bears seen by visitors along the Park Road are grizzlies.