Alaska Day 8 - Denali National Park - Hiking Mount Healy
Denali National Park Travel Blog› entry 714 of 1090 › view all entries
Denali National Park has a strange and complex history. It was founded in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park, and not because of this mountain, nor because of the landscape, but just to protect one of its species, the Dal Sheep. Only part of the mountain, which is the highest point of North America, was included in the park, not even the summit.
All Alaskans actually call Mount McKinley "Denali" which is an Athabascan (the language of the native Alaskans) word meaning "The High One" or "The Great One". Given the fact that President William McKinley, who the mountain was named after as a political statement, had no connection to Alaska at all the Alaska State Board renamed the mountain "Denali", the US National Board, however, still names it "Mt McKinley".
In 1980, the most important step for the park was signed into law by, again, Jimmy Carter. By signing the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act he merged Denali National Monument and Mt McKinley National Park into one, adding huge portions of surrounding land as well. The name was changed to Denali National Park.
When Mount McKinley National Park was founded it was almost inaccessible. So the Park Service started building a 146-km (91-mile) long road into the park in the north-eastern section. The road starts at the entrance and ends at the Kantishna former mining district. The road is paved for only the first 15 miles. After that it is a dirt road which is only accessible on foot, by bike, or by shuttle bus. A limited selection of private cars can drive the road only four days per year and only after winning a lottery.
We started our day easy. The rain had stopped, but it was still a bit cloudy. Our first activity thus, was an extensive visit to the visitor center.
We concluded the day by driving the 15 mile of the Denali Park Road. The beautiful weather gave a razor sharp images of the surrounding mountains. All but, of course, Mount McKinley which was stubbornley retreated in its clouds.
For a nice old picture of the entrance of the park somewhere in the 1930s see here!
More pictures below!