Discover the Boreal Forest: Identify Plants While Hiking in Denali

Denali is home to a beautiful variety of plant species, from tall aspen trees to short moss campion. With a diversity of habitat types that support water-loving to drought-tolerant plants, Denali is an excellent place to immerse yourself in the subarctic flora. The DenaliFlora App is the perfect companion for your botanical explorations.

Botanize with the DenaliFlora App

The DenaliFlora App is simple to use as a digital field guide for plant species found within the park. It offers information on 300 of Denali’s most common native plants, and includes a way to assist you in identifying plants with which you are not familiar.

The app is available for free on both Android and iOS devices; search “DenaliFlora” in your device’s app store. Once downloaded, launch the app to access an interactive key and a searchable species list of plants in the park. The DenaliFlora App requires no data connection after download; it is a great resource anywhere in the park to learn about the wonderful plants of Denali.

Suggested Areas to Explore

  • Savage Alpine Trail
    This area offers a long season to see a variety of flowering herbaceous species. Containing primarily higher-elevation alpine habitat, flowers may be out as early as late May. Located at mile 15 on the park road, you will experience a different ecotype than is found on trails closer to the Denali Visitor Center. The trail is 4 miles long, with a time commitment of about 3 hours one way.
  • Rock Creek Trail
    Explore an array of diverse understory vegetation, featuring a number of Denali’s most charismatic wildflowers. 2.4 miles long, with a time commitment of about 1.5 hours one way. Wildflowers typically bloom in June and early July.
  • Horseshoe Lake Trail
    Stroll through forested, floodplain, and lakeside habitats on this trail, possibly encountering moose or beavers interacting with the flora. 3.2 miles long, with a time commitment of 1 hour one way.

Learn More About Plants in Denali

a person uses a cell phone app to identify a flower

DenaliFlora Plant ID App

Identify a new-to-you flower, or learn more about a plant you already recognize with this free mobile app and electronic field guide.

a researcher kneels on a gravel hillside with a quad

Tracking Vegetation Change

Efforts to understand where and why plants grow are critical to predicting where they will exist in the future.

spruce trees surround a bright yellow flower

Explore Plant Groups

Discover more about the over 1500 plant species that call Denali home.

two volunteers work to pull invasive dandelions that grow along the side of the road

Protecting Denali's Vegetation

One of the great joys of botany in Denali is the intact plant communities. Discover more about how Denali protects its vegetation.

a researcher sits on the tundra with a mountain in the background

A Living Laboratory

Denali is a living laboratory. Discover more about plant-related research that has taken place in the park.

Leashed (6' or shorter) pets are permitted on the Denali Park Road, the Roadside Trail and the Bike Path. Pets are prohibited on other trails.

Although we recommend here that you botanize on other trails, there are still plenty of great plants to discover on the Roadside Trail and Bike Path!
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
With only seven trees, identifying plants outside of summer is tricky (or impossible, when snow covers everything!). The main time to identify wildflowers and other plants is June through mid-July, when most plants are flowering, although identification is still possible before or after that roughly six-week window.
Accessibility Information
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, please pay particular attention to your surroundings, so that you do not accidentally approach too close to an animal. Moose in particular can be surprisingly quiet for their size, and can be very dangerous if they feel threatened by your presence.

All of the trails described below are around 2,000' above sea level, give or take a few hundred feet. The Savage Alpine Trail reaches elevations of 4000’.

Savage Alpine Trail
  • Surface: Native soils and gravel.
  • Max grade: 25%.
  • Width: Generally 24” inches wide.
Rock Creek Trail
  • Surface: Well-compacted gravel
  • Max grade: 15%.
  • Width: Generally 2.5' wide.
Horseshoe Lake Trail
  • Surface: Mix of compacted gravel and rougher roots and native soil.
  • Max grade: One significantly steep section, approximately 20% grade.
  • Width: Generally 5' wide, but with some sections less than 3' wide.

Last updated: August 6, 2018