Alaska is a wonderland for weekend adventurers. Whether you’re working in Anchorage or Fairbanks, you have so many opportunities for excursions waiting right outside the city limits.
Exploring Alaska’s outback offers a fantastic experience for anybody who seizes the opportunity, and Denali National Park and Preserve dominates “Top 10 lists” as one of the most unforgettable attractions in Alaska. The park is roughly halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, so if you’re working in either city, visiting the park is a must-do before you leave.
The park boasts 6 million acres of wild land and draws nearly 400,000 visitors each year. Within its borders are expansive forests, high alpine tundra and Denali, the tallest mountain in North America at a towering 20,310 feet tall. Hiding in the park’s alluring magnificence are also a lot of oddities, such as wolf research, misnamed mountains and wildlife with cool survival tricks. The park and its famous peak are steeped in history any visitor can enjoy.
To kick off your weekend trip, here are five weird facts about Denali National Park you might not know.
Denali is Visible 200 Miles Away
According to Only In Your State, Denali is so tall that with clear weather you can see the mountain from all over Anchorage, including the Anchorage International Airport or Earthquake Park in Anchorage. You can also catch glimpses of the monstrous mountain at the Reflection Pond at Wonder Lake and the University of Alaska campus overlook in Fairbanks.
The Frogs Freeze Themselves Alive
The wood frog, which was once proposed as the official amphibian of New York, is the only amphibian that naturally resides in Denali National Park. These frogs are fun and fascinating to researchers and visitors alike because the wood frog freezes itself into a cryogenic state in wintertime. The frog’s heart stops beating, and lungs cease pumping until the frog thaws in the spring. Afterward, they continue along as if winter never existed.
Climbers tried Summiting Denali a Century Ago
The first attempted summit of Denali took place in 1903. The mountaineer was Judge James Wickersham. He attempted to climb the mountain via Peters Glacier and the North Face, but he fell far short of his goal. The route Wickersham tried to ascend wasn’t accomplished until 1963 due to avalanche dangers. The summit he attempted is now known as Wickersham’s Wall.
The first verifiable ascent to Denali’s summit was achieved on June 7, 1913, by climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum. They ascended via the South Summit. Rumor has it, they celebrated their success with hot chocolate and donuts.
Denali has Been a National Park Twice
Denali is the park so nice, the government made it twice. Unlike the other national parks in Alaska, Denali used to be much smaller. The Alaska Native Interests Land Conservation Act in 1980 created Alaska’s eight national parks, but Denali was initially founded as Mount McKinley National Park on February 26, 1917. The entire park was a relatively small area set established to protect Dall sheep. Visit the Denali Visitor Center to learn more about the park and its unique history.
Denali is Perfect for Wildlife Watching, With a Permit
Denali National Park is home to more than 39 different types of mammals, many of which are apex predators. To really enjoy the wildlife Denali has to offer, you’ll need to acquire a special permit and go camping in the backcountry. When you’re planning a trip, keep in mind there is only one main road that runs through the official park called “Park” road. Private vehicles aren’t permitted after Mile 15. Unless you want to travel on foot from there, you’ll have to take the hop-on, hop-off park shuttle bus or a tour bus.
Depending on where in the park you have an overnight adventure, you have a good chance of encountering:
- Dall sheep
- Grizzly bears
- Collared pika
- Hoary marmot
- Red fox
- Arctic ground squirrel
- Snowshoe hares
- Black bears
Before you venture off on a camping trip, make sure you take one of the National Park Service’s bear safety courses!
Working in Alaska will give you unfettered access to one of the most stunning places on Earth. Alaska is truly a wonderland for weekend warriors, wildlife lovers and hikers. Are you ready to create your own once-in-a-lifetime Alaska adventure? Great! The first step is to search our current job openings.