Almost as large as the state of Massachusetts, Denali National Park is the first and last stop on any adventure into Alaska’s wild. At some 24,500 square kilometers (or 6 million acres) including the surrounding preserve, it is the third-largest national park in the United States, after two other Alaska parks: Wrangell-St. Elias and the Gates of the Arctic.
The park offers excellent chances for seeing wildlife, including moose, wolves, caribou, Dall sheep and grizzly bears. Presiding over it is the tallest peak in North America, Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), which means “the tall one” in a name derived from Koyukon, a language traditionally spoken by the Athabascan people of Alaska. The soaring mountain divides the park into north and south sides. The south side is most popular with mountain climbers and those on flightseeing tours, while the north is where the bulk of visitors go, traveling along Park Road, which winds for 148 kilometers (92 miles) through Denali National Park. Visitors can sightsee the entire way via the green Visitor Transportation System shuttle buses, which stop at various hiking trails.
The mighty mountain is actually not visible from the entrance of the park that bears its name; some of the best vantage points from which to see it are between miles 9 and 11 on Park Road. Other notable sites include the Husky Homestead, an Iditarod-training center for husky sled dogs, while the kid-friendly Murie Science and Learning Center showcases a fossilized footprint of a three-toed Cretaceous-era theropod dinosaur, found in the park in 2005.