Contemplating Denali

Denali Adventure and Exploration

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5 minutes, 24 seconds

Home to North America’s tallest peak, Denali has been a mecca for mountaineering and adventuring for more than a century. Today, the park continues to enchant climbers, pack-rafters, skiers, dog mushers and athletes seeking to test themselves against the raw, unchecked power of a truly wild landscape.

Listen to an audio-described version of Denali Adventure and Exploration


Welcome to YOUR park.

In Denali, we are privileged to share the stories of the human connection to a vast and wild landscape. Subsistence hunting, trapping and gathering occur today just as they did hundreds of years ago. Denali also serves as a barometer for change.

As permafrost thaws, glaciers shrink, and tree lines rise, we feel humbled to care for this living laboratory that is so critical to understanding the effects of climate change on our global community. More than anything else, we hope you celebrate the true ideal of national parks here in Denali, a place that has been set aside to connect people to America’s past, a place that protects present wildlife and amazing landscapes for your enjoyment and that of future generations, and a place that celebrates the individual’s opportunity to experience inspiration, reflection, awe, and wonder.

It's a big idea, but we believe Denali is big enough for every visitor to find something special in their park. Enjoy your visit.

-- Don Striker, Superintendent
black and white portrait photo of a well-dressed while man in suit and tie.
Charles Sheldon

Origin of Denali National Park and Preserve

More than a century ago, two remarkable men spent the winter in a cabin not far from the Toklat River. Their experience and interaction with the wild landscape changed them. In turn, they came to have a profound influence on preserving the landscape for generations to come.

Charles Sheldon, an early conservationist and gentleman hunter from Vermont, along with Harry Karstens, a legendary outdoorsman and dog musher, struck upon an idea over the long winter to make of the place the world's first national park established to conserve wildlife. By 1917, after almost a decade of hard work, Sheldon and others persuaded Congress to create Mount McKinley National Park. Four years later, in 1921, Karstens was hired on as its first superintendent.

About "the Mountain"

snow covered Denali stands tall over a lake

Denali or Mt. McKinley?

What's in a name? Surprisingly, a lot. Learn more about what the mountain is called and why.

a tall snow-capped mountain peaking out of the clouds


Learn about glaciers, earthquakes, landslides, and the fossils that tell the story of Denali's dinosaurs.


Geology of Denali

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    Tags: denali geology

    Share your Denali story. If you have a minute to spare and a telephone, you can add your voice to a chorus expressing why Denali matters. Wilderness and wildlife cannot speak for themselves - they need your voice to share the importance of special places, set aside to remain wild for all time.

    Immerse Yourself in the Wild

    We encourage you to take a moment, much as Sheldon and Karstens did together more than a century ago, to think about your experience, and ponder what influence you may wish to have on Denali's future. For inspiration, here are a few things you can do or discuss with others:

    • Sit silently for a full minute and listen carefully for all that you might hear.
    • Before you take a picture, stop. Turn around 360 degrees to take in all that surrounds you.
    • What did you expect before you came to Denali? Once you arrived, what were your first impressions? Do your first impressions still ring true?
    • What would you like Denali to look like in the future?
    • If you had to summarize Denali in one word, what would it be? How will you describe Denali to your family and friends back home six days or six months from now?

    Last updated: May 30, 2017

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    PO Box 9
    Denali Park, AK 99755


    (907) 683-9532

    Contact Us