Denali National Park and Preserve

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Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska and contains Denali (Mount McKinley), the highest mountain in North America.
The national park and preserve is over 6 million acres (24,500 km²), of which 4,724,735.16 acres (19,120 km²) are federally owned. The national preserve is 1,334,200 acres (5,430 km²), of which 1,304,132 acres (5,278 km²) are federally owned. On December 2, 1980, a 2,146,580 acre (8,687 km²) Denali Wilderness was established within the park.
Denali habitat is a mix of forest at the lowest elevations, including deciduous taiga. The preserve is also home to tundra at middle elevations, and glaciers, rock, and snow at the highest elevations. The longest glacier is the Kahiltna Glacier.
Today, the park hosts more than 400,000 visitors who enjoy wildlife viewing, mountaineering, and backpacking. Wintertime recreation includes dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling where allowed.

The park is serviced by a 91-mile (146 km) road from the George Parks Highway to the mining camp of Kantishna. It runs east to west, north of and roughly parallel to the imposing Alaska Range. Only a small fraction of the road is paved because permafrost and the freeze-thaw cycle create an enormous cost for maintaining the road. Only the first 15 miles (24 km) of the road are available to private vehicles, and beyond this point, visitors must access the interior of the park through concessionary buses. Wonder Lake can be reached by a six-hour bus ride from the Wilderness Access Center. Eielson Visitor Center is located four hours into the park on the road.
Several fully narrated tours of the park are available, the most popular of which is the Tundra Wilderness Tour. The tours travel from the initial boreal forests through tundra to the Toklat River or Kantishna. A clear view of the mountain is possible only about 20% of the time during the summer, although it is visible more often during the winter. Several portions of the road run alongside sheer cliffs that drop hundreds of feet at the edges, and there are no guardrails. As a result of the danger involved, and because most of the gravel road is only one lane wide, drivers are trained extensively in procedures for navigating the sharp mountain curves, and yielding the right-of-way to opposing buses and park vehicles.
While the main park road goes straight through the middle of the Denali National Park Wilderness, the national preserve and portions of the park not designated wilderness are even more inaccessible. There are no roads extending out to the preserve areas, which are on the far west end of the park. The far north of the park, characterized by hills and rivers, is accessed by the Stampede Trail, a dirt road which stops at the park boundary. The very rugged south portion of the park, characterized by enormous glacier-filled canyons, is accessed by Petersville Road, a dirt road that stops about 5 miles (8.0 km) outside the park. The mountains can be accessed most easily by air taxis that land on the glaciers.

The Denali Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Denali National Park and Preserve. It encompasses the high heart of the Alaska Range, including Denali, the centerpiece of the wilderness, which comprises about one-third of the national park.

Denali Wilderness covers the area formerly known as Mount McKinley National Park from 1917 until the park was expanded and renamed in 1980. It is 2,146,580 acres (8,687 km²) in area; the entire park is larger than the state of Massachusetts.

Denali is home to a variety of Alaskan birds and mammals, including a healthy population of grizzly bears and black bears. Herds of caribou roam throughout the park. Dall sheep are often seen on mountainsides, and moose feed on the aquatic plants of the small lakes and swamps. Despite human impact on the area, Denali accommodates gray wolf dens, both historic and active. Smaller animals, such as hoary marmots, arctic ground squirrels, beavers, pikas, and snowshoe hares are seen in abundance. Foxes, martens, lynx, wolverines also inhabit the park, but are more rarely seen due to their elusive natures.

The park is also well known for its bird population. Many migratory species reside in the park during late spring and summer. Birdwatchers may find waxwings, Arctic Warblers, pine grosbeaks, and wheatears, as well as Ptarmigan and the majestic tundra swan. Predatory birds include a variety of hawks, owls, and the gyrfalcon, as well as the abundant but striking golden eagle.
Ten species of fish, including trout, salmon, and arctic grayling, share the waters of the park. Because many of the rivers and lakes of Denali are fed by glaciers, glacial silt and cold temperatures slow the metabolism of the fish, preventing them from reaching normal sizes. A single amphibious species, the wood frog, also lives among the lakes of the park.

Denali park rangers maintain a constant effort to keep the wildlife wild by limiting the interaction between humans and park animals. However, the number of wild bears necessitates their wearing collars to track movements. Feeding any animal is strictly forbidden, as it may cause adverse effects on the feeding habits of the creature. Visitors are encouraged to view animals from safe distances. Despite the large concentration of bears in the park, efforts by rangers to educate backpackers and visitors about preventive measures and BRFCs have greatly reduced the number of dangerous encounters. In August 2012 the park experienced its first ever fatal bear attack when a lone hiker apparently startled a large male grizzly while photographing it. Analysis of the scene and the hiker's camera strongly suggest he violated park regulations regarding backcountry bear encounters, which all permit holders are made aware of. Certain areas of the park are often closed due to uncommon wildlife activity, such as denning areas of wolves and bears or recent kill sites. These restricted areas may change throughout the year. Through the collective care of park staff and visitors, Denali has become a premier destination for wildlife viewing.
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