Denali State Park – Alaska

Denali State Park is located approximately 100 air miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. The park consists of 325,240 acres of land and it is divided almost in half by the George Parks Highway, which is the main thoroughfare between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. The park was established in 1970 and was again expanded in 1976 to its present size. It is situated between the Talkeetna Mountains in the east and the Alaska Range in the west. On the eastern half of the park lies the 35 mile long north/south alpine ridges of Curry and Kesugi. The terrain in the park ranges from lowland streams to alpine tundra. Recreational opportunities abound in the park from camping to exploration. You will find whatever you are looking for here.

The Tanana Indian word “Denali” means The High One which is fitting for this park since that was the original name of Mount McKinley which is located in Denali National Park. Mount McKinley is North America’s highest peak. Denali National Park and Preserve is adjacent to Denali State Park.

There are many wonderful spots along your way that allow you to take breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. The park includes many bulletin boards with information pertaining to the particular area from which you are viewing. It will list the name of any mountains located there and will provide you information on the general terrain of the area. When driving through the park, you should make sure to stop at these spots to take in the magnificence of the area. Hikers and backpackers will also be able to view the many wonderful scenic areas in the park and sometimes will have unobstructed views of the most magnificent terrain.

You will want to pay particular attention to whether when you are planning your Denali State Park getaway. The summer is perhaps the best time to visit the park. Temperatures will range into the mid 60’s, very rarely getting any warmer. Along with the nicer temperatures, summer also affords you with up to 21 hours of daylight allowing you more time to explore the entire park. Winter temperatures will range between zero and 30 degrees. During peak frost, temperatures could drop to between zero and minus 40 degrees.

The precipitation in this area can reach 30 inches annually, with an average of 180 inches of snow each year. The depths of the snow, which begins to accumulate in October can reach six feet or more each year. The snow will begin to melt in May but at higher altitudes, it can be seen into July.

There is an abundance of plant life located throughout Denali State Park and is dominated by the white spruce and paper birch forest. In the higher elevations, moss campion, mountain avens and other flowering plants can be seen in the alpine tundra area.

You can find black spruce, balsam poplars and many other tree species within the park. Growing sporatically throughout river flood plains, you will find many species of edible berries, such as, cranberries, blueberries, currants, watermelon berries, cloudberries and crowberries. Stop and take a taste, you will love these berries.

Wildlife abounds in Denali State Park and you will find varieties of bear, grizzly and black and moose. Less frequently you may see the wolf and caribou in the park. Lynx, coyote, red fox, land otter, snowshoe hare, flying and red squirrels can be found in the park. Ermine, marten, mink and wolverine all belonging to the weasel family all make their home in the park. Many other species of animal from small to large can be found during your trip through Denali State Park. The park is also home to over 130 species of birds, common ravens, willow ptarmigan (which is the state bird of Alaska) and many others can be seen.

Fishing is a favorite pasttime for visitors to the park and they will be sure to find quite a few variety of fish in the rivers, from all five species of salmon to rainbow trout and dolly varden.

Denali State Park is for the most part a wilderness and you should take precaution when visiting. A good map of the park is essential for your safety and will help in the event you become lost. Encounters with one of the many wildlife inhabitants is also likely during your stay and every precaution should be taken to avoid them.