Encompassing over six million acres of land in a subarctic biome, and spanning the Alaska Range with an elevation difference of almost 20,000 feet, Denali National Park and Preserve experiences a wide range of meteorological conditions. Mount McKinley at 20,320 feet above mean sea level is the highest point in North America experiences some of the most severe weather in the world. A visibility webcam at Wonder Lake offers an up-to-date look at conditions on the north side of Mount McKinley throughout the summer, and lets you track year-round weather and air quality updates near Denali Park Headquarters.
Denali straddles two of the major climatic zones of Alaska — the transitional maritime zone south of the Alaska Range and the continental zone in the interior region, north of the range. The Alaska Range exerts a major influence on the climate of the Interior by blocking much of the moisture that sweeps inland from the Gulf of Alaska. Therefore, the north side of the park is characterized by less precipitation and greater fluctuations in temperature (hotter in summer and colder in winter) than the south side. Temperatures of minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) and lower are not unusual on the north side of the range during winter, and although summer temperatures can climb to 90°F, they can also fall below the freezing mark.
Did You Know?
Recent climate warming has affected Denali in ways that are readily apparent, such as reduced spring snowfall, earlier snowmelt, earlier green-up and thawing of permanent snowfields. Subarctic ecosystems, like Denali, are extremely sensitive to climate variability and change.