With 6 million acres of wilderness to explore, this expansive gem is home to the surreal Kahiltna Glacier as well as Mount McKinley (elevation: 20,320 feet), the highest mountain in North America. To learn more about Denali, click here.
Before or after visiting Denali NP, visit Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Soldotna, where you might fish for migrating salmon, and see brown and black bears, moose, and of course, bald eagles. Along the scenic Kachemak Bay in beautiful Homer, the kids can get their Jr. Biologist badge in the interactive Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.
While you're there
Stop in at the Denali Visitor Center to board one of the free buses that take guests to the sled-dog kennels, where rangers demonstrate the state's traditional mode of travel and introduce kids to the Alaskan huskies that call Denali home. In summer, there are three tours daily (10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.), and buses depart approximately 40 minutes beforehand. Once you get back, head out along the 323-mile George Parks Highway, which runs roughly parallel to the gorgeous Alaska Range and ends at the mining camp of Kantishna.
Where to stay
Located a mile from the front gate of Denali, the full-service Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge has spacious rooms; outdoor hot tubs; an expansive deck that offers commanding views of the park and the Nenana River; and several restaurant options, including Lynx Creek Pizza and Pub (try the Denali Gold microbrew). Room rates start at $179 per night, but the second night is half off on select dates throughout the summer.
* All hotel prices are approximate.
"Hiking's my favorite thing to do at Denali," says Owen Kirkland, 9, of Anchorage. "My favorite trail is the Savage River Loop because it's narrow and close to the water and there's a huge boulder to climb called Savage Rock."
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If you like this destination, and are interested in a variety of other travel spots, feel free to visit the following websites:
You will find travel information for a number of agencies including Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.