Alaska Homestead


How wild west homesteading spawned Denali’s tourism zone When traveling the 350-plus miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks on the George Parks Highway, there are very few pauses in the undeveloped wilderness. One such pocket of civilization is the half-mile swath of roadside businesses outside of Denali National Park and Preserve, commonly known as the Canyon. Since I live in the area and drive by the Canyon often, I became curious about the origins of the place. There had to be a story behind this flashy strip mall that sells Alaskan license plate keepsakes, beckons growling stomachs with a variety of food, and fills RV tanks with gas. Turns out, the Canyon began with three entrepreneurial hippies staking a claim on land for development. But to understand the evolution fully, we must dig deeper. First, let’s go back to pre-1923 when Denali National Park and Preserve (previously known as Mt. McKinley…