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Mount Denali (formerly McKinley) | Denali National Park

© Scott McMurren 2021

It's hard to get a bird's-eye view of Denali (formerly Mt McKinley). After all, “The Great One” stands 20,320 feet above sea level–dwarfing the tall mountains around it, except for nearby Mt. Foraker (17,400 feet tall). Denali is so big that it has its own weather system. Truthfully, it can be sunny in Anchorage and Fairbanks at the same time the mountain is socked in by clouds.

There are lots of big facts about Denali. Some of the glaciers on the mountain are well-known. For example, the Ruth Glacier is where bush pilot Don Sheldon built a cabin. The "Mountain House" still hosts visitors from around the world. The glacier is a favorite landing spot for travelers who want a ski-plane landing as part of an air tour from Talkeetna or Healy. Kahiltna Glacier hosts "Base Camp" for those who are climbing to the top of the mountain. However, there are dozens of other glaciers around the mountain. On an air tour, you can see many orange cones, many of which denote a glacier landing strip staked out earlier by pilots.

There are many larger-than-life Alaska pioneers that spent years on or around Mount Denali. Bradford Washburn and his wife, Barbara, mapped out Mount Denali in the 1950s. Today, their calculations and technical data still figure prominently in any geographic analysis of the mountain and its surroundings. Washburn helped produce a great book on Mount Denali: "Mount McKinley: The Conquest of Denali". It's an incredible essay with stunning photographs of the mountain by Washburn. The book is out of print, but go to the "Alaskacam" home page on the link above, to find the book from private parties.

The Washburns depended on Bush Pilots like Bob Reeve, Lowell Thomas, Jr. and Don Sheldon to ferry supplies up and down Mount Denali. While much of the business for air taxis was hauling freight, the same pilots often were called on to rescue injured climbers. Don Sheldon was regarded as one of the "super airmen" of the mountain. His story is recounted in a popular Alaska book, "Wager with the Wind".

Since Mount Denali is inside the Denali National Park and Preserve, all climbers need to register with the Park Service. Climbers must register with the Park Service at least 60 days prior to their climb, then pay a $200 fee (plus park entrance fee). The Park Service's ranger station in Talkeetna is the nerve center for monitoring climbers on the mountain. Even if you're not planning on climbing Mount Denali, a stop at the ranger station in downtown Talkeetna offers an interesting look at the mountain, its special properties and obstacles.

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2024 Alaska TourSaver Offers at Mt. Denali, Denali National Park and Talkeetna:

Bike DenaliSave $40 on e-bikeDenali National Park$40 off (up to four people)$160.00
Denali Park ZiplineDenali National Park, AlaskaDenali National Park$40 off$160.00
New Wave AdventuresGuided rafting on the Nenana RiverDenali National Park2-for-1$130.00
New Wave AdventuresGuided hikes in Denali National ParkDenali National Park2-for-1$125.00
Alaska RailroadTalkeetna to Hurricane, AlaskaTalkeetna2-for-1$114.00
Denali Zipline ToursTalkeetna, AlaskaTalkeetna$37.25 Off$149.00
K2 AviationDenali Flyer flightseeing from Talkeetna AIrportTalkeetna$63 Off each$252.00
Mahay's Jet Boat Adventures2-Hour Wilderness Jet Boat TourTalkeetna50% Off 2nd Tour$39.50
Talkeetna Air Taxi“South Side Explorer” Denali FlightseeingTalkeetna50% Off 2nd Tour$138.00
Talkeetna Air Taxi“South Side Explorer” Denali Flightseeing with Glacier LandingTalkeetna50% Off 2nd Tour$199.00
Talkeetna Gear ShopBike & Brew E-Bike TourTalkeetna2-for-1$150.00
Talkeetna Gear Shop25 percent off bike rentalsTalkeetna25% Off$75.00
Talkeetna River GuidesFour-hour Chulitna River FloatTalkeetna2-for-1$145.00
Talkeetna River GuidesTwo-hour Talkeetna Natural History River FloatTalkeetna2-for-1$89.00
Value Up To:$1,925.50

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