Denali National Park


            Twenty thousand years ago...some of us can remember back that far...during the height of the Wisconsin Ice Age....when ice was as far south as Rhode Island  and parts of Illinois, the Alaskan interior was free of ice.   Back then the ground was full of tundra vegetation, other mega fauna and wooly mammoths roamed the land.  Evidence exists that the Athabascans, a nomadic tribe, hunted in the lowlands that are now a part of Denali National Park. 

            The were in search of caribou, sheep and moose, in addition to netting fish, gathering edible plants and collecting berries.   There is even the belief that they picked blueberries near Wonder Lake.  We had hiked up Blueberry Hill at Wonder Lake to see the view of Mt McKinley and also the blueberry plants.   Europeans arrived in the late eighteenth century, probably when Captain Vancouver sailed into Cook Inlet in 1794.   

            The first attempt at scaling Mt McKinley was 1902, but it was not until later that a party of miners scaled the north peak, only to learn that the south peak was higher at 20,320 feet.  The first successful summit of Mt McKinley occurred In 1912 and it took the party fifty three days to accomplish this feat.   

            In 1908, a naturalist by the name of Charles Sheldon fell in love with the land and its abundant wildlife.  He worked for nine years to ensure the safety of this land and in 1917 President Woodrow Wilson created Mount McKinley National Park.  Later more land was incorporated into the park and it was renamed Denali National Park and Reserve.  It has the highest mountain on the North American continent and the largest protected ecosystem in the world.  Mt McKinley is the official name, but the Athabascans still call it Denali...the High One. 


Black Bear Grizzly Bear
Kantishna Lodge Hiking in Denali National Park
Moose Mt McKinley Range