“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.”

– Henry David Thoreau

National parks are rooted deeply in American culture and they shine bright in Alaska. In 1872, the US Government established Yellowstone National Park as “a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

Soon after, the United States authorized the establishment of more parks and historic monuments, but they were not managed by a central agency. In 1910, the first national park in Alaska was created – the Sitka National Historic Park. Today, there are 19 national parks and national historic areas in Alaska, covering 54 million acres of land. These include some of the most iconic in the country – Denali, Kenai Fjords, Wrangell-St. Elias and Glacier Bay, to name just a few.

Here are some tips on visiting a national park:

Visit in the shoulder season or off-peak times.
It can be much quieter in June and September, and the same principle applies in earlier morning or later day – better chance for wildlife viewing, more space to yourself and no crowds to avoid.
Pick one thing.
Instead of trying to check everything off a giant list in a sprawling place like Alaska, we suggest you focus in on one element. It could be taking photos of the sunset in each park, hiking the most iconic trails, or adding flowers to you life-long flora list.
Be wildlife aware.
Never feed any wild animals, including birds. Grizzly bears and moose are unpredictable and dangerous. Get informed and fully understand how to safely travel in these wilderness areas before you come. Stop by the visitors’ center (see #5) for up-to-date information.
Dress appropriately.
If you think about dressing like an onion – with layers you can peel or add on depending on the conditions – you’ll be prepared. No matter what, dress for the worst.
Travel light.
There’s some essentials you need (see our packing list). But there’s lots you don’t need.
Leave no trace.
The rule is to leave the park better than you found it – so pick up trash and do not ever feed the wildlife.
Talk to the rangers.
Every time you arrive at a national park, make your first stop a park visitors’ center. You’ll get the latest updates on road and trail conditions, be pointed towards a little-known spot to maybe spot some moose, and learn about the natural history from the experts. You can also sign up for a ranger-led naturalist hike and pick up the latest edition of the park newspaper.
 
History of Denali National Park
Mount McKinley National Park was created in 1917. In 1978, the Denali National Monument was created, and the two were joined in 1980 to become Denali National Park and Preserve. Today, more than 500,000 people enjoy Denali National Park annually, experiencing the grand vistas of mountains and tundra, and searching for the untamed wildlife. Preservation efforts are paramount in Denali to ensure this sensitive ecosystem endures for generations. And access to the park is restricted to park-approved tours, such as the Denali Backcountry Adventure.

Most visitors to Denali will limit their stay to the Park entrance, and explore the many trails near the Visitors Center. However, adventure seekers and those who are looking for a unique way to experience Denali National Park choose to stay at the Denali Backcountry Lodge. Located within the park’s wilderness boundaries, the property offers visitors the opportunity to explore the backcountry and enjoy unrivaled views, and relax in comfortable accommodations after a day’s adventure.

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History of Kenai Fjords National Park
The Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 on the Kenai Peninsula in southcentral Alaska. It contains the Harding Glacier, one of the largest ice fields in the United States, as well as at least 38 glaciers. The park is predominantly accessible only by boat or foot.

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Other Alaska National Parks
Alaska’s other national parks include Wrangell-St. Elias, Katmai, Lake Clark, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, and Kobuk Valley.

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