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Denali National Park to Fairbanks

Denali National Park is located in Alaska.  Here are some Denali National Park facts;

  • Home of Denali (Mount McKinley), the highest peak in North America
  • 6 million acres of national park
  • 16% of the park is glaciers
  • Home of the 71 km Kahiltna Glacier (longest in Alaska)
  • Wildlife viewing tours
  • Hiking with a park ranger
  • Organized mountaineering to the top of Denali

Denali, Mount McKinley, Alaska

Denali, Mount McKinley, Alaska

At 6,190 meters high Denali is the highest mountain in North America and the centerpiece of the park.  The original inhabitants of Alaska, the Koyukon people named the mountain Denali centuries ago.  In 1896 however, a gold prospector gave the mountain the name Mount McKinley after a presidential candidate, William McKinley.  William McKinley did go on to become the 25th president of the US before being assassinated in 1901.  From 1917 to 2015 the official name of this mountain was Mount McKinley but it is now officially named as Denali as the Koyukon people have named it for centuries.

Wildlife viewing tour, Denali National Park

Wildlife viewing tour, Denali National Park

A highlight of any visit to Denali National Park is a wildlife viewing tour.  A wildlife viewing tour is included as part of the Princess land cruise itinerary.  The advantage of being on a bus is that the bus driver is a trained naturalist who has a lot of experience looking for wildlife and ensuring the safety of the passengers.  There is also a bus full of people looking for wildlife so it’s more likely you’ll have wildlife sightings and a few false alarms too.  Wildlife to look out for include;

  • Grizzly and black bears
  • Moose
  • Caribou
  • Dall sheep
  • Wolves
  • Beavers
  • Red fox

If you are not here as part of an organized tour it’s still possible to reserve your place on a wildlife viewing tour.

Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska

As well as being home to unique wildlife, Denali National Park is also home of incredible landscapes and views.  Photographers will fill up their memory sticks in no time!  A view from Savage river toward Primrose ridge is a popular place to get beautiful photos, if you’re on a wildlife viewing tour you’ll stop here.  As part of the wildlife tour you’ll also stop at an Indian family who’ll teach you about their values and even sing a native song for you.  These guys are obviously used to the cold weather as the young girl still managed to sing for us despite the snow and cold wind.

Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali, Alaska

Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali, Alaska

As part of the Princess land cruise I stayed at the Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.  This offered great views of Denali, the big question is, will they change the name of the lodge after the official name change of the mountain?  As I write, it’s still known as the Mount McKinley Lodge.  Being from England I was happy to find that the restaurant here served delicious fish and chips.  Is there a better way to view Denali than from a warm restaurant enjoying fresh Alaskan fish and chips?

Princess Rail, Glass-Domed Rail Cars to Denali National Park

Princess Rail, Glass-Domed Rail Cars to Denali National Park

Unique to the Princess overland cruise is a ride on the Princess Rail network.  This is glass-domed train which gives great views of Denali National Park.  The bear photo I posted above was not actually taken on the wildlife tour but from the train, so a ride on the train is also a wildlife tour.  The friendly stewards on the train will inform all passengers of any wildlife sightings.  Not only do you see wildlife but the scenery is very colorful too, I was there as fall was starting so the leaves on the trees were changing colors.

Denali National Park to Fairbanks

Denali National Park to Fairbanks

Every journey must come to an end, my final destination on my Antarctica to Alaska by land trip is Fairbanks. From Fairbanks I found a cheap flight with Alaska Airlines back to Manchester, UK.