Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park are excellent destinations for independent travelers to experience Alaska in 2021.
A lone bear stakes out his fishing territory beneath Brooks Falls in Katmai. Photo by Michelle Theall. Alaska’s eight designated national parks cover over 41 million acres. For scale, that’s twice the size of all of the Lower 48 national parks—from Death Valley to Big Bend—added together. National parks are considered the crown jewels of each state—important enough to be protected for all—and Alaska is no exception. It just, well, has a bigger crown. Alaska is romanticized and revered for its wildness, its vast and forbidding landscapes, and its almost mythic number of creatures. The diverse flora and fauna here exist among famous mountains, but also unnamed and unclimbed peaks and salmon-rich rivers and remote streams. There’s a reason these areas are protected: their wild beauty and wonder represent the best Alaska and, thus, our country, has to offer. Visiting all of the parks requires some logistical gymnastics—ideally broken down…
Wolf of the north
A hiker makes his way up the Mount Healy Overlook Trail. Photo by Steven Merritt By Steven Merritt With its vast wilderness and the chance to get an up close and personal look at wildlife, visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve often are pulled away from the core area of the park entrance, but there’s plenty to do in and around the Visitor Center—especially for day hikers. While many of the shorter trails in the area stick to the lowlands near the visitor center campus, the Mount Healy Overlook Trail—one of the steepest in the park and often lightly trafficked—offers a perfect outing with a hikers’ trifecta of views, exercise, and elevation gain. Located off the Taiga Trail, not far from the Visitor Center, it rises steadily through spruce forest before reaching benches at an overlook near the halfway point. From there, switchbacks introduce a steeper climb as you…
Experience Denali Park in autumn
[By Julie Stricker]
A crisp breeze ruffles the fur of a tawny grizzly as it grazes in a patch of blueberries only yards from a busload of people. They whisper excitedly as camera shutters whir, but the bear is intent on its meal and pays no attention.
You never know what you’ll find hiking a wilderness trail
Under an azure sky stretching unblemished to Denali’s icy dome, the morning air crisp and fresh after autumn’s first frost, our tundra hike captivates the senses.
Visitors can see everything from bears and murres to sand dunes and salmon.
[by David Shaw]
It’s Denali National Park’s fault I live in Alaska. Fourteen years ago, I accepted a position as a field biologist, banding birds at the far end of the park’s only road. For two months I awoke every clear morning to a view of Denali itself, the Great One rising 20,320 feet into thin air. I was hooked, and have been here ever since.
Riding the rails in search of fresh hops.
[by Hudson Lindenberger]