Denali, the High One

Denali, the High One in the native Athabascan, is North America’s highest peak at 20,320 feet. Denali towers 18,000 above Wonder Lake, showing more vertical feet of mountain than Mount Everest, which rises from a high plateau.

The Denali Park Road map shows that the park road runs in a long valley between two mountain ranges. The southern range, which includes Denali, is the Alaska Range. Six hundred miles long, the Alaska Range is formed by tectonic plates colliding and pushing up the mountains.

Denali Park Road
Denali Park Road

The long, high Alaska Range creates different climates: forests to the south and low vegetation to the north.

Our first day was overcast and hazy: the mountain top was obscured by clouds, and the snowy peaks blended in with the clouds. Here are some photos from the first day:

On our second day, the blue sky defined the mountain more clearly. The photos were taken throughout the day. You never know what the weather will do, so you take pictures as you go. The bottom two pictures were taken in the afternoon, when clouds came in. Our bus driver said this was the best weather in several weeks.

The road is closest to Denali at Wonder Lake, so it can provide the best views. However, but the time we got there, the top of Denali was in the clouds. We walked through the Wonder Lake campground, enjoying the view. We said that waking up to this view would be spectacular. Perhaps on our next trip to Denali…

Denali from Wonder Lake campground
Cloudy Denali from Wonder Lake campground (click to enlarge)

Seeing Denali is an adventure. For many of us, seeking Denali requires a long journey on planes and the park bus, for a chance at what we seek. We had seen a cloudy Denali from Wonder Lake the previous day, and we considered catching an earlier bus back to the entrance, instead of riding our bus to Wonder Lake. But we agreed to go on to Wonder Lake, taking a chance on clearer weather and the chance to see animals later in the day on our return. And we did see the golden eagle and the caribou encounter with the hikers.

We had two great days in Denali, we were happy with all we had seen, and that’s what matters.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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