Archive for March, 2011


Mt. McKinley, with a glimpse of the unforgiving and beautiful Alaskan wilderness that lies beneath it.

Denali National Park: one of the most stunning, powerful places on earth. Definitely the most famous park in Alaska, probably one of the most famous in the entire United States.  Dangerous, exciting, and all inclusive-it has something for everyone.

Denali is on the top of my list for places to visit in Alaska this summer. I hope to spend a large chunk of the time I am traveling there, and I have no doubt that it will be nowhere near enough time.  People have said that years would not be enough time to truly explore the park.

Denali got its name from the Koyukon Athabaskan name for Mt. McKinley, which means ” The High One”. It is aptly named, because McKinley is the highest peak in the United States, and is the center and focus point of the park. The park was created to protect the Dall sheep, one of the MANY species of wildlife in the region, when they were threatened by human advances into the area. This action created a park that was so much bigger than just that one species of sheep. So many species of wild life make Denali their home. Brown bears, wolves, moose, foxes, wolverines, sheep, salmon, trout, and even one amphibious species, the wood frog, populate the park.  Without this beautiful, 6,075,107 acre mammoth of a park, most people would never be able to experience anything even close to this nature. It truly is one of a kind.

I love wildlife. It is one of my passions in life. I am an avid hunter, and have pursued everything I have had the opportunity to with plans to find more opportunities. I really enjoy being out in the woods, watching the animals. But sometimes, the woods themselves are what truly interests me. This is the case of Denali National Park. I also feel obligated to say that calling Denali “woods” is a huge insult. The only name that really does this park justice is wilderness. There are 3 sections to the park, all massive areas. They are the park, which is over 4,000,000 acres, the preserve, which is over 2,000,000 acres, and the wilderness, which is located in the park and is nearly 2,000,000 acres. All of these areas are more immense, untamed, and beautiful than you can possibly imagine. To give an idea of the remoteness of the area, there are 91 miles of road in the entire park. Even more amazing: only a small fraction of that is paved, and only 15 miles of it is open to private vehicles.

What to do?

Hiker reaches a summit in Denali Park with McKinley beyond

What is there to do in Denali? Think about that question. With millions of acres available for exploration, only a minuscule fraction of which is developed, what can’t you do?  Hiking is a simple concept. Pack up, and  hit the woods. There are no trails, no signs, no real restrictions (permits are needed, but not hard to obtain and amazingly inclusive; with one, you can hike for days.) This is the concept that draws me to Denali. I love the idea of being in true wilderness.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more!

An example of the beauty of Alaska

Alaska is the reason I have become so interested in traveling. It sparked my interest in the outdoors, experiencing new things, and adventure, so I decided I could not justify making a blog about my interests that was not centered around this beautiful area.

Katmai National Park and Preserve, King Salmon

A famous sight, one of the most commonly used pictures of Grizzly Bears, taken at Brooks Falls

Katmai National Park, the park I have previously visited, has two things to offer. The most beautiful and diverse wildlife I have ever seen, and the most beautiful and interesting sights I have ever seen.

The reason I went to Katmai was the Grizzly Bears. This park has one of the highest concentration of Grizzly bears in the world, and the setup of the park makes it extremely easy to see them in their natural habitat. Tourists are able to walk anywhere in the park, except at 2 locations where bears congregate and people are kept on a platform a safe distance away. Besides these places, people can go everywhere in the park. This adds a very realistic aspect to seeing these bears. It is by no means a zoo. These are wild animals, very dangerous, and not behind fences. You navigate the trails at your own risk. Newcomers are given a bear safety course at the beginning of their visit, and then given free reign of the park.  Many people have heard of this park without ever knowing. Grizzly Man, a book and movie about Timothy Treadwell that depicts the life and gruesome death (eaten by the bears he studied) of a man obsessed with the bears of Katmai. He lived for several months out of the year in one of the most remote regions of the park’s 4,725,188 acres, studying the bears that eventually killed him.

I had one of the best times of my life watching the bears at Katmai. I saw them snag with snakelike precision some of the individual salmon out of the colossal pods that swim up the river with lightning fast speed, watched them bicker amongst each other about feeding areas and territory, and enjoyed several close and surprising calls with the very dangerous and agile creatures. It was an experience I never will forget.

The Valley of 10 Thousand Smokes

What Katmai is most world renowned for: A geographical wonder, and a very intellectually and visually stimulating area.  The valley was discovered 4 years after the Katmai Volcano erupted, covering the whole area with ash flow, when Robert Griggs explored the aftermath of the eruption. What he found was a valley, still smoking out of thousands of fissures years after the eruption had subsided, and a very distinct rock formation. The ash, when it dried, formed some of the most beautiful and unique formations anywhere in the world. Geographers from everywhere on the globe come to study it, and, the best part about it in my opinion, it is still amazing to the untrained eye.

I was unable to visit the Valley, and have regretted it ever since. From what I have heard and read, it is a breathtaking sight.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for DENALI National Park!