9 Things You’ll Learn at the Denali Visitor Center


Nestled in the stunning foothills of the Alaska Range, Denali National Park and Preserve is a wonderland of lush nature and pristine landscapes. It is as beautiful and unspoilt today as it was when naturalist Charles Sheldon first visited the country over a hundred years ago – whose aim was to ensure its protection for future generations. Through his dedication and tireless efforts, his goal was achieved, which led to the establishment of Denali National Park and Preserve on February 26, 1917.

Visitors to the park today can enjoy its serene natural surroundings that have been properly preserved over a long period of time and participate in myriad adventures and activities that include expert-guided hikes, sightseeing bus tours, backcountry camping and biking through the wild and sprawling Denali Park include road to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the region.

Also see: Denali National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Alaska

However one chooses to explore the diversity and beauty of Denali, use of the designated and dedicated information center is the perfect complement to a trip to the reservation. The Denali Visitor Center is a fascinating place that is open to the public and offers interested visitors an exclusive opportunity to learn all about the park, its nature and history from those in the know. Of the many things to discover in this hidden gem of history, science and information, the following are interesting topics to learn about during a visit.

9 There are a million acres of glaciers in Denali

About one-sixth of the park is covered by mighty glaciers that flow from the mountains from elevations of up to 19,000 feet above sea level. And the miracle doesn’t quite end there; Stretching a whopping 44 miles along the southwest side of Denali, the Kahiltna Glacier is not only the longest glacier in the park, but also the longest in the entire Alaska Range.

Related: This national park has the most glacier hiking outside of Alaska

8th Some Denali rangers have four legs

Since it opened in the 1920s, sled dogs and official good boys and girls have assisted rangers in patrolling the reserve. And they’re not just cute dogs in uniform performing for the public; They are legitimate employees and the only sled dogs in the US to work in a national park. In addition, visitors can even watch sled dog shows in the summer season and on duty in the winter.

Visitors can also visit their kennels year-round for an extra dose of delight. And for netizens who can’t make it to Denali right away, the park’s puppy cam is available, along with puppy-obsessed folks who can follow the park on Facebook — the account often posts updates on Denali’s sled dogs for her-loving fans to enjoy.

7 Mountaineering is one of the park’s top activities

Mountain climbing is one of the park’s most popular pastimes, with Denali Peak officially the tallest in all of North America, measuring a whopping 20,310 feet. There was no lack of challengers to reach its peak; The first climbers to reach the summit accomplished the feat in 1913, and since then hordes of climbers from around the world have descended to attempt the quest. Years of training and expedition experience are required to attempt this climb – a round trip expedition that takes an average of 17-21 days to complete.

Although Denali Summit is actually the final boss, many climbers also hone their skills on the myriad of other peaks and walls of ice scattered throughout the park, allowing potential challengers to gather all the essential skills and experience before tackling the ultimate goal.

See also: How to Reach Denali, Home of America’s Tallest Mountain

6 Denali only has one street

There is only one road that cuts through Denali, which truly makes it a place of pristine wilderness. Construction of the 92-mile Denali Park Road first began in 1923 and was finally completed in 1938. It spans the entire grounds of the park and serves as the main access point for visitors.

Private vehicles have limited access as they are only allowed to go to mile 15 and no further. However, the park’s four-day annual lottery grants winners one-day permits, which can then ride as long as they like.

Related: Flightseeing tours are the best way to see this Alaskan park

5 Wildlife is diverse and plentiful

For many people, the reason for visiting Denali is to discover wildlife, which is as diverse as it is plentiful. In fact, scientists have tagged 39 species of mammals living in the reserve’s expanse, but most people come to see its giant animals, including caribou, elk, wolves, Dall sheep, and grizzly bears — the latter of which can be seen regularly while eating blueberries be sighted in late summer. Additionally, visitors can see 169 bird species and over 1,500 plant species within the park’s boundaries, making it a place of natural awe and extreme biodiversity.

4 Only a single species of amphibian can survive in Denali

About three inches long, the wood frog is the only amphibian that has managed to thrive in Alaska’s frigid winter temperatures. Tough, hardy, and extremely climate-adapted, the species endures what most animals simply could not survive; The wood frog’s body freezes all winter, their hearts don’t beat and their lungs don’t breathe at all during this time.

What keeps them alive are their cryoprotective chemicals, which protect the frogs’ cells during their hibernation. Then, when spring arrives, the frogs thaw and hop back to the ponds to complete the cycle of life and breed and spawn Denali’s next generation of cold-hardy frogs.

Related: 10 Places You Must See in Alaska to Really Appreciate It

3 Denali has a rich history and remains important to Alaska Natives

Native Alaskans have called the land around the Denali Territory home for millennia, using its resources for shelter, food, clothing, crafts, transportation, and trade. In fact, the name “Denali” itself comes from the native Athabaskan languages ​​and can be translated as “the great one” or “great mountain.”

And at the Denali Visitor Center, guests can learn about indigenous cultures; There are amazing exhibits related to the park’s human history that guests can learn about from the experts themselves. Ranger talks are also offered, allowing visitors to learn all about the history and indigenous communities in an informative and intimate way.

Related: These are some of the best pre-US historical sites in Alaska

2 Denali is one of the best places in the US to see the Aurora Borealis

The otherworldly spectacle of the Northern Lights takes place in Denali year-round, but with luck and good planning, they’re only best visible during fall, winter, and early spring — the months when the night sky is dark enough to watch the mesmerizing ones showcases of color and light. Unfortunately, those who fail to catch the elusive phenomenon, which is often difficult to predict, can still enjoy breathtaking stargazing on clear, cool nights at the reserve.

1 Dinosaur fossils abound

Guests of Denali and its visitor center can walk with dinosaurs – not quite literally, of course, but close enough. Dinosaur fossils abound in the park, particularly in the 70-million-year-old Cantwell Formation.

Also of note is that in 2005, a prehistoric carnivore called theropod was the very first fossil unearthed from interior Alaska, followed by thousands of trace fossils found since then. Visitors to the reserve can experience many such fossils up close at Denali’s Murie Science and Learning Center, where ancient Denali and its eons of natural history can be seen and experienced.

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