Mt. McKinley

From the train.

DenaliIn June 2007, we made our first-ever trip to Alaska. The first part of the trip was a short stay with friends in Anchorage, followed by a train ride to Denali National Park. The much-touted train ride was long with plenty of scenic bits. The highlight was this view of Mt. McKinley, which I snapped from our train car seat.

Mt. McKinley, which is also known as Denali, is the tallest mountain in North America. It stands over 20,000 feet (that’s nearly 6,200 meters for those of you in the rest of the world) and is perpetually snow-capped. It also is usually surrounded by clouds, as you see here. My shot is actually considered a relatively good photo, since the mountain is hidden more often than not. (The link at the beginning of this paragraph includes an excellent photo taken from within Denali National Park.)

I enjoyed the train ride to Denali but the return ride was overkill. I also wish that we’d stayed inside the park rather than in the horrible little tourist town the cruise ship companies have built just outside the park entrance. (You can read more about our trip to Denali here.) The park is full of wildlife but access is severely restricted. Although you can see plenty of animal life from the tour buses you have to take to to get more than 16 or so miles in (I can’t remember exactly), hiking is somewhat limited along the tour bus routes. The overall feeling in the park is that 99% of the visitors see everything through a bus window. That’s not how we normally experience National Parks.

Anyway, my recent trip to Alaska has made we want to visit again. Next time, I’ll spend more time in the park, away from the crowds and closer to the natural beauty that brings them there.

And maybe — just maybe — I’ll get a cloud-free glimpse of Denali.

3 thoughts on “Mt. McKinley

  1. laskans can put in for and if they are drawn they can drive their car all the way into the park on 1 weekend of the year. While I am not a fan of driving through parks – preferring to get out and walk when possible- it is sad to think that the access nust be so limited.

    We would love to go back and really see the state- maybe someday. We did get some fabulous views of Denali( Mt. McKinley).

    Next time you are up at the Mesa stop over and we can compare photos.

  2. Looks like the first part of my comments got lost. we went in mid August. No wildlife from bus, nice ride but not our way to see a park.

  3. We’ll be up at the mesa this weekend. Maybe we’ll stop by and see you. Not sure if we’ll have the photos with us, though. They’ll all on disc.

    Not our way to see a park, either. We like to explore on our own and make frequent stops in scenic areas for short walks or picnic lunches. Although we did take about a 2-mile walk in Denali, it was mostly along the road because there simply weren’t any trails and we didn’t feel comfortable heading out across the tundra (especially with bears around). My understanding is that if you stay at the lodge at the end of the road, there are hiking trips available. That’s more of what we were expecting.

    Staying in the tourist town just outside the park was like being in a tourist processing plant. Terrible accommodations, disappointing dining opportunities, and complete separation from the park. I feel that our trip was 10% of what it could have been.

    I look forward to going back and doing it right.

What do you think?