Unit 1: Triple Lakes
This unit is bounded by the George Parks Highway (Hwy #3) to the east and Riley Creek to the west. There is a long, broad alpine ridge system in the southern end of this unit, as well as ridges that surround the Triple Lakes basin in the northern portion of the unit. The majority of the unit is forested, including the Triple Lakes area, with wet tundra in lower areas and dry tundra at higher elevations.
Tips and Special Features
This is one of the few areas in the park with easy trail access and is the only backcountry unit with established campsites. These are primitive campsites with no outhouse or garbage cans, so you are required to follow the normal Denali rules for waste disposal in the backcountry. This unit is a good option for large groups because it has a limit of 12 people per night and the trailhead is accessible by personal vehicle rather than the bus system. You are likely to run into day hikers on the popular Triple Lakes Trail, especially on weekends. If you camp in the lake basin you may be within sight and sound of other campers. Wildflowers are abundant in early summer and blueberries are plentiful in the fall.
Common Routes or Hiking Corridors
You can begin extended trips from the Triple Lakes area by following the drainage northwest of the 3rd lake, which leads to Riley Creek. Traveling north (downstream) along Riley Creek from this point is not recommended in mid-summer because there are a number of cliffs you must navigate around and Riley Creek can be very difficult to cross. Riley Creek is typically more crossable as you go south (upstream) on its brushy gravel bar and into Unit 2. From the headwaters of Riley Creek you can follow passes that lead to the Windy Creek (Unit 16), Savage River (Unit 4), or Sanctuary River (Unit 5) drainages.
The broad alpine ridge system in the southern part of Unit 1 can be reached by ascending the western hillsides of the Triple Lakes basin that lead to amazing views of the Yanert Valley. This can be a good overnight trip, or the beginning of a longer adventure into Unit 2.
Additional Notes and Hazards
Did You Know?
Visibility is an important component of measuring Denali's air quality. Visibility data, such as that from the Wonder Lake camera, supplements chemical data from filter samples. Air here is still clean, but traces of pollution from local, regional and international sources exists on filter samples.