Denali Hotel, National Park
by Julia Williams
Denali: six million acres of spectacular Alaskan wilderness
An Alaskan "dream vacation" just isn't complete without a stay in a Denali Hotel. National Park visitors have long been in love with the panoramic landscape of Denali, and for good reason. The scenery is an artful blend of arctic forest, grassland, lakes, rivers, and of course the towering Mt. McKinley, North America's tallest peak at 20,320 feet.
Where to stay while exploring Denali Park
When deciding on a Denali Hotel, National Park guests have a wide variety of lodging choices: everything from rustic log cabins and mountainside chalets, to amenity-rich hotels located just outside the park's entrance, as well as no-frills motels a few miles down the road.
If your dream is to have a "real Alaskan Adventure," you should definitely consider booking a room in one of the fabulous wilderness lodges located deep inside Denali Park on privately-owned land.
For outdoorsmen (and women) who favor "roughing it" over the comforts of a Denali Hotel, National Park camping is the way to go. Denali's Grizzly Campground, eight miles from the entrance, has tent and RV spaces, plus those all-important showers (c'mon, even roughing it should have limits, right?).
Whatever your budget and travel preferences are, you're sure to find a wonderful place to rest your weary head among the many lodging facilities at Denali Park.
An important travel tip for procrastinators
If you have your heart set on an Alaskan wilderness vacation, don't wait to make reservations or you might find yourself stuck without a Denali Hotel. National Park lodging can fill up quickly during the prime summer months, and Denali is no exception, so book your lodging as early as possible.
For animal lovers, Denali National Park is paradise
Although the bed may be comfy and the amenities nice, don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your Denali Hotel. National Park wildlife is just one of the delights awaiting you in the rugged Alaskan wilderness.
Moose, wolves, caribou, beaver, grizzly bears and arctic ground squirrels are some of the animals that call Denali home. Birdwatchers might catch a glimpse of boreal chickadees or ptarmigan, and sharp-eyed guests might be lucky enough to see the park's lone amphibian, the wood frog.
Rise-n-shine, daylight is a precious commodity
You surely wouldn't trek to Alaska just to sleep all day, so arrange an early wake-up call, eat breakfast, then check out of your Denali Hotel. National Park narrated bus tours are one of the best ways to explore the area.
You can choose a short natural history tour or a daylong tundra wildlife tour. If you stay more than one night, of course you should do both!
Taking a bus tour increases your chance of spotting wildlife because you're sitting up higher than if you were riding in a car, and there are many pairs of eyes to scout the area.
What else can you do in Denali Park?
After getting a good night's sleep in a Denali Hotel, National Park adventure-seekers have no shortage of thrilling activities to select from:
· A helicopter "flightseeing" tour offers a birds-eye view
along with an exciting glacier landing.
· Rafting options include both mild scenic-float trips and
whitewater runs down the Nenana River.
· Tour the husky homestead of Iditarod champion Jeff King.
· Take a heli-hiking tour with a naturalist guide.
· An afternoon Tundra Trail horseback ride traverses the
foothills of the Alaskan Mountain Range.
You might want to forego the Mt. McKinley climb
Most park visitors aren't ready for strenuous mountaineering, but never mind. While staying in a Denali Hotel, National Park hikers have plenty of ways to flex their leg muscles.
There are easy guided nature walks near the visitor center, moderately taxing treks in the backcountry, and trail-less adventures for experienced hikers.
All of the hikes have two things in common: beautiful views and the unparalleled thrill of being in the wilderness.
Be sure to save time for other activities, like slide shows and interpretive programs at the visitor center, or musical comedy at a local dinner theater.
Whatever you do in Denali National Park, have a great time—and don't forget to send me a postcard!
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