The Last Frontier is known for its sprawling wilderness, staggering snow-capped mountains, and abundant wildlife. Choosing from the eight national parks in Alaska can be difficult, but if a traveler's goal is to see the tallest mountain in the state, Denali is the only option. At over 20,000 feet tall, Denali is visible from over a hundred miles away on a clear day, reminding people just how big and beautiful the planet truly is.
Though hiking through the wilderness in Denali is nothing short of magical, visitors can cover more ground by checking out the other unique activities offered at the park. This list will pinpoint a couple of trails worth the hike and cover the wide range of attractions for guests who'd like a more varied perspective of the 7,400 square-mile wonderland.
10 Snap Pictures On A Photography Tour
Everyone wants photographic evidence when they visit a place as beautiful as Denali National Park. To guarantee some brag-worthy shots, guests can tour the best picture-taking spots with a professional photographer who offers tips to capture the park in all its glory. Various tours cover lots of ground in the park, so travelers can take their pick from wildlife-focused excursions or concentrate on getting clear snaps of the majestic mountain ranges.
9 Challenge Yourself On The Savage Alpine Trail
- Length: 4.1 miles point to point
- Elevation Gain: 1,414 feet
- Duration: between two to four hours
A trip to Alaska isn't complete without a hike or two, so why not challenge oneself to a strenuous trek brimming with expansive views from a high elevation? With a name like Savage Alpine, it has to be good. The trail takes hikers on an uphill adventure, where they'll enjoy a well-rounded view of Denali's terrain. A rugged path blends into the alpine region segues into fields of grass dotted by wildflowers in the summertime and includes spectacular views of the Alpine River and surrounding valleys.
8 Go On The Drive Of A Lifetime
Guests who'd like to stay seated (except for photo ops, of course) can hit the road for one of National Geographic's must-do scenic drives. Fifteen miles of the highway are open to private vehicles year-round, and those who'd like to try their luck can enter the Denali "Road Lottery" for a chance to cruise the entire 92-mile path. Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed, and some animals who call the park home are caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and grizzly bears. Visitors who don't mind some company can go on a day-long bus trip covering the entire scenic highway.
7 Raft Down The Nenana Gorge
Adventurers who don't mind getting wet can make a splash on a white water rafting trip down the beautiful Nenana Gorge. Mountains rise in every direction, decorated by colorful alpine flora and stunning jagged rock protrusions. The water is cold, but the adrenaline rush is sure to keep rafters warm as they navigate the river with an experienced guide.
6 Train For The Iditarod
Four-legged friends make everything better, and visitors to Denali have the unique opportunity to go on a dog sled adventure through the wilderness. The canine team carries mushers across the snow for trips as short as an hour or as long as ten days. Small groups mean an intimate park experience, brimming with unparalleled views of the park in every direction. After a hard day of work, the dogs enjoy socializing with their luggage, so practice that petting technique well in advance to thank the good dogs for their service!
5 Hike The Thorofare Ridge Trail
- Length: two miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
- Duration: one to three hours
Nothing beats a view earned by intense physical exertion, and this short hike demands the most of those who decide to give it a go. Hikers' calves will be burning almost as much as their hearts when they reach the top to take in the views. Keep a close eye on the forecast for a clear day to ensure a spectacular view of Denali rising in the distance.
4 Spot The Northern Lights
While a visit to the park during the wintertime means having to layer up, the colder months offer the best dark night sky viewings of the year. Denali National Park is over a hundred miles from city lights, which means unpolluted panoramas of the star-studded Milky Way. Check the aurora forecast and head into the park at night to witness the phenomenal glow of the Aurora Borealis dancing through the sky.
3 Take A Zipline Tour
Fly through the sky on a zipline tour for a bird's eye view of the Alaskan wilderness. For three exhilarating hours, guests will zip through the trees, traverse suspension bridges, and climb winding staircases just outside the park. There are plenty of picture-taking opportunities with great views of mountain ridges, ravines, valleys, and treetops. The tour saves the best for last with an extensive 600-foot long zip over a beautiful pond offering plenty of time for reflection.
2 Go Flightseeing
It's impossible to see all of Denali on foot, as much of the rugged terrain isn't built for even the hardiest hikers. To really see and feel the bigness of the park, travelers can hit the skies for a flightseeing tour. It's a visitor's best bet to see the peak of Denali, as the mountain is so tall it's often wreathed in dense clouds that prevent views from the ground. Fliers will observe sweeping scenes of glaciers, expansive valleys, and every jagged corner of the magnificent mountain during the 200-mile flight.
1 Admire The Midnight Sun
Many visitors head to Alaska during the summer months for more comfortable temperatures that make outdoor activities less of a hassle. Summer-goers have way more time to explore, as they will have daylight extending well past sunset times in the rest of the world. Morning people and night owls alike will be in awe of the midnight sun, illuminating the sky in a golden, ethereal glow, clouds painted in rich pinks, oranges, and shades of gray.