Magazine article Sunset

Seeing Denali

Magazine article Sunset

Seeing Denali

Article excerpt

The lowdown on the highest peak

THEBASICS

Denali National Park and Preserve covers more than 6 million acres: tundra, glaciers, mountains, and lakes. Only a single road goes into the park, and it's 92 miles long.

WHEN TO GO

The park is open year-round; shoulder season (May or Sep) is the best time to visit; wildlife sightings remain about the same, but spring flowers and the tundra turning in late summer add dramatic color. Buses, the main public access into the park, run May 20 to the second Thursday after Labor Day. $ 10; nps.gov/dena.

GETTING HERE

You can rent a car and drive to Denali from Anchorage (about five hours) or Fairbanks (about two hours). The Alaska Railroad stops at Denali daily in summer. The train has better scenery, including Hurricane Gulch, where the tracks seem to tightrope-walk over a canyon. Anchorage-Denali is $156 one way, or $241 in GoldStar service, which gets you upstairs with a much nicer view; Fairbanks-Denali is $68/$ 123. alaskarailroad.com.

SEEING THE PARK

Most of the park road can only be traveled by bus. The park has two kinds: Tour buses are more comfortable and offer narration, but only The Kantishna Experience bus gets you deep enough into the park to see the real glories; shuttle buses let you get on and off almost anywhere to hike and go as far as Kantishna. From there, Denali looks like a wall. Reservations for either kind of bus: reservedenali.com.

PARK LODGING & FOOD

One lodging option within the park is Camp Denali-where writer Steve Friedman stayed-located in a 67-acre private in-holding. …

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