To get the most out of Denali National Park, you first should try to go on a day when you can see “The Mountain”, which is what most people in those parts call the highest peak in North America. You know it as Mount McKinley or Denali, depending on your point of view.

Denali

Of course, unless you have magical powers, that is entirely out of your control. The mountain is very frequently socked in by clouds.

However several other worthwhile things are in your power. For instance, you can opt to take the park bus ride out to Eielson Visitor Center. It is four hours on a bus, one way, which sounds like it could be tedious. It is not. The bus drivers are good at spotting wildlife and stop to let you take a good look at Dall sheep,  caribou and — yes — grizzly bears.

Denali Dall Sheep

 

Denali Grizzly Bear

 

And you can a totally different sense of the place from up above — over parts of the six million park acres that most visitors can’t access. McKinley Flight Tours’ very small plane carried me over the Alaska range and several glaciers, before bad weather forced an early return.

Denali by air

Denali Glacier

I personally have never been able to control the weather, but I sure enjoyed the ride.

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Alison J. Stein

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