Denali National Park, Alaska – Claustrophobia in Denali National Park

Mount McKinley is with 6.194 m (20,320 feet) not only the highest mountain on the North American continent; it has to offer a world record as well: The vertical relief between the lowlands near Wonder Lake and the mountain’s summit of some 5500 m (18,300 feet) is even greater than that of Mount Everest. Mount McKinley reins in lofty isolation over the Alaska Range that divides south-central Alaska from the interior plateau. The mountain is covered at 75 % from permanent snow fields, feeding many glaciers at its foot. Unfortunately it is rare to see. Statistically clouds cover it during half the year. As today. We were lucky to see it from Fairbanks, even when it was not completely clear then.

In Denali National Park where the mountain is situated we buy an annual family pass “America the Beautiful” for 80 $. About half of what Canada asks for. You are only allowed to go the first 24 km with your private car. With reservation for the campground you may go another 22 km. You can do some short hikes in the entrance area. If you want more than just a bit of sightseeing or even want to see Mount McKinley in the park you depend on the shuttle bus system. That costs pretty much money and you have to reserve well in advance – without knowing how the weather will be then. It is high season and there are so many people in the park. We are getting kind of claustrophobic, are happy to see two caribous and continuing to Denali State Park. There are viewpoints from where you can see the “High One”, the name Athabascan native people gave the massive peak. But meanwhile clouds fell off the sky and we can just imagine that there must be a mountain range somewhere beside the road.

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