Denali Park Adventures

The Denali National Park Road Landslide

Denali National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities such as hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and mountaineering. The park is home to Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America, and visitors can take guided tours to the summit or explore the park's vast wilderness on their own. The park also offers opportunities for wildlife viewing, including grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, and Dall sheep. Additionally, the park's natural beauty and diverse landscapes, from tundra to glaciers, make it a great destination for photography and sightseeing.


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Undoubtedly, if you have been doing research on your trip to Alaska this summer, you’ve stumbled across the realization that a landslide in Denali National Park has caused limited access on the Park Road.  Well, I’m here to tell you that while this might give you reason to second guess your trip, in reality this should not sway your consideration for visiting Alaska’s Crown Jewel. 

Should I rethink my Denali trip?

Here’s the thing, the main draws of the Park are still available despite the work being done at the Pretty Rocks landslide location.  You may be asking yourself, “How can that be?  The road access ends at 45 miles!” Don’t panic! That’s what the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy taught us, and here that lesson applies.  The reality is; 1. Despite the road closure you are still able to see Mt. Denali from many locations, both inside and outside the Park.  2. No one told the wildlife about the landslide at Pretty Rocks, which means that all the moose and bears and eagles you hope to see keep showing up for work!  And 3. All of the best, and well established trail systems are in the front country of the Park.  Savage River, Horseshoe Lake, Healy Overlook, and Triple Lakes are all still spectacularly maintained by the Park Service and are easily accessible daily.

Why should I still visit Denali?

Now you might be wondering, “Yea, but I’m not going to get the full experience if I can’t go all the way to Kantishna, right?” and to that I’d reply, “What is it that you are hoping to get out of your journey here?”  If it’s literally just to see the additional mileage and spend many additional hours on a bus, then yes, there will be a small gap left in your itinerary. But if you are like me and prefer quality to quantity, then you’d be wrong to think that Denali is best experienced on a bus. After living and working in Denali for a decade, my humble opinion is that you’ll find the most magical areas are all available to you.  Not to mention that all the Parks additional facilities, like its Train Station, Visitor Center, and Science and Learning Center are all still open for business!

Let’s look at this another way.  Denali National Park is roughly 6.6 million square acres.  To put that into perspective, that’s just about the size of Massachusetts.  Now, if you were planning a vacation to New England, and you found that you were going to have maybe 1 or even 2 days in Massachusetts, do you really think that you’d be able to explore the entirety of the state in a quality way during that time?  NO WAY!  You’d be making a list of the must-do’s and dedicating your time to checking those items off.  That’s exactly what I’m getting at here.  Most, if not all, of Denali’s must-dos are still accessible to you as a visitor.

What else is there to do when I visit Denali?

Additionally, the amount of time spend in the park isn’t a direct correlation to your opportunity to adventure in the area.  There’s a myriad of activities in the surrounding community that you still have access to, and some would argue greater potential for diversity when budgeting your Park time.  There’s a rich tapestry of adventure excursions in the area that provide access to parts of interior Alaska just as spectacular as anything you’ll find inside the imaginary lines of the Park Boundary (Alaska’s beauty is too big to stay confined to a manmade marker after all).  Instead, consider filling that gap in your itinerary with an ATV or Zipline Excursion in the Stampede Corridor, an area made famous by the “Into The Wild” story, and who’s country was originally slated to be a part of the Park, but was set aside for the unleashed spirit of the Healy locals, and their want to engage with the landscape.  Take a Jeep down the Denali Highway, where you get a sister experience to the Park road, with ample opportunity to see Mt. Denali, as well as wildlife, in a landscape vast and untouched, but from the comfort of a climate-controlled, private vehicle.  Maybe you want to see the mountain more up close and personal… Did you know that you can land on it’s glacier strewn slopes in a bush plane, and plant your feet in the ice which helped carve the Mountain Ranges which slice through Alaska’s wilderness?  Maybe for you, a trip to Alaska wouldn’t be complete with a heart pounding journey through the white water of the Nenana River, and the unique view of the jutting canyons which are only accessible from a raft, with a paddle in hand.

The point is that Denali is so much more than just the Park Road, and you’d be doing a disservice to yourself to write it off because of a few miles of inaccessible gravel.  Instead, come here, and take that extra time to tread the ground less seen, and the corners unexplored.  Find the places you wouldn’t have ever engaged with from the passenger seat of a bus.  Be your own driver, your own map maker, and explore despite it all.  You’ll find that you’ve left the interior with a backpack full of memories that you’ll never regret.

Here is a link to the most updated information regarding the Pretty Rocks landslide:

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Evan Orfanidis
Evan is a long tenured staff member of Denali Park Adventures. Hailing from Baltimore originally, he finds himself at home amongst the towering mountains of the Alaska range where he seeks to further his adventures with every passing day. His curiosity for learning about Alaska's hidden gems is boundless.

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