Denali National Park

Location: 60 miles north of Anchorage
Features: Mt. McKinley, Glaciers, Mountains

Denali NP - click to enlarge

sunset at our first campsite
After our 'experience' at Kenai Peninsula, we decided to go to the Denali National Park, north of Anchorage.
Main attraction there is without any doubt Mt. McKinley, over 20000 feet high and a gigantic landmark.
If you wanna go hiking you have to take care of a view things. First of all, the road to Wonder Lake, into the park, is usually closed for the public traffic so there is no way to use your own car there. The only way to get into the park is by bus.

There are tour busses and transportation busses. I don't think there is a big difference (except for the price, of course) between the two, since the ranger in the transportation bus also explains the features of the park. For the trip to Wonder Lake and back you'll need the whole day. If the weather is fine and you don't have the time to hike, it's defenitely worth taking that tour.
The park is devided into several hiking areas. The park staff only let a certain amount of people into each area per day. If the maximum number is reached, they'll close that part for hiking until there is 'space' again. So at the visitor center you have to sign up for the areas in advance. A little tip: if you are going to spend a few days in the areas around Wonder Lake, try to sign up as far in advance as possible, since this is a very popular area.

Area 8 - The Polychrome Mountains

Polychrome Mountains
We spent most of the time in Area 8 - The Polychrome Mountains. This is an area with rugged, high mountains, glaciers and fantastic views over giant valleys. It's also a nice place for hiking, since it is on high elevation so there is no brushwood but only grass and sand, which makes it a lot easier.
We made a couple of daytrips on top of the surrounding mountains and to the closeby glaciers. The glaciers are actually pretty small and dirty so you don't really have to go there, but the views from the mountains are excellent.

On our last day, we decided to take the bus to Wonder Lake to see Mt. McKinley.
The first sight of the mountain is really awesome (weather depending, of course) and on the way to Wonder Lake you'll probably also see Grizzlies and other animals (even Moose, if you're lucky). We started early in the morning with clear skies and a fantastic view to Mt. McKinley. But already at noon the mountain was in the clouds and when we arrived at Wonder Lake, the fantastic view was gone.

first sight of Mt. McKinley Muldrow Glacier + Mt. McKinley

at the park entrance
Another extraordinary feature of the park is Muldrow Glacier, the only glacier I know, which is overgrown by grassy-like vegetation. You can barely recognize it as a glacier, only sometimes you see the ice shining through the cover.
In fall, the park seems to have tons of different colors, especially at the lower elevations at the park entrance. It's a beautiful scenery which nobody should miss...

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