Travel

Exploring Alaska’s National Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to the Last Frontier

It’s difficult not to speak about Alaska’s national parks in hyperbole. After all, the 49th state owns 60 percent of the areas managed by the U.S. National Park Service. The park’s total area is over 41 million acres (roughly the size of Wisconsin) and covers habitats ranging from tropical rainforests to Arctic tundra.

Within this acreage are the four biggest National parks of the United States (Wrangell-St. Elias, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, and Katmai), the ten most awe-inspiring peaks in the United States, one of the largest tidewater glaciers (the long 76 miles of the Hubbard Glacier within Wrangell-St. Elias), and much more.

The Alaskan National Parks are also the most isolated (only 3 of 8 parks are accessible via road, and the remaining five require a boat or an air taxi) and the least visited (five of the ten most visited national parks are in Alaska).

Where to begin in this statistically remote–but profound–wilderness? In the seven years I lived in Alaska, I visited every one of its stunning National parks (many instances in the cases of Kenai Fjords, Denali, and Wrangell-St. Elias) to discover what makes each unique. Check out our detailed guide so that you can pick which of the excellent parks in Alaska to visit during your next trip.

Engaging in Alaska tours is the perfect way to discover its stunning beauty and vast wilderness, from Denali National Park’s towering peaks to Wrangell-St. Elias’ vast, glacier-carved landscapes, Alaska’s parks offer something exciting for every traveler. Whether cruising past tidewater glaciers, hiking through unexplored tundra, or spotting bears or moose on your wildlife adventure tour, Alaska offers it all.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Why should you go: To gaze at the highest point in North America

The closest town is Healy 865 people live there, just 12 miles from the park (although there are shops that operate during the season, eating establishments, restaurants, and hotels within a mile of the park’s entry point, which is in an unofficial community known as “the Canyon” by locals)

The most talked-about portion of Denali is the mountain of 20,310 feet, which Denali has been given its name (known by Denali’s Indigenous Athabascans as the Great One). However, Denali’s six-million-acre park covers the entire area. What makes Denali so beloved is how open and inclusive its activities are.

Suppose your idea of a memorable trip involves searching the Alaskan landscape for its Big Five (bear, moose, Dall sheep, caribou, and the wolf) in the comfort and security of a bus. At the same time, the guide is certified and provides facts and information that Denali can deliver. 

Denali can deliver that if you’d prefer to spend your days in a tangled boreal forest in search of an exciting spot to spread the sleeping bags. Other options include hiking, rafting, and flightseeing (flying over Denali is possible).

It’s important to remember that only one route leads to Denali National Park. Although Denali Park Road is 92 miles, you aren’t able to drive your vehicle beyond milepost 15. Beyond that, you’ll need to join a narrated excursion or hiker shuttle. In 2027, and through the season, the road will close at Milepost 43 because of the collapsing landslide. Another opportunity is to Get a glimpse of the park while on the train’s scenic view:

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