Inside Denali: Take the road seldom traveled through Alaska’s wild terrain
August 7, 2013
Denali National Park in Alaska is 6 million acres of raw wildness bisected by just one road that is mostly unpaved. Wildlife abounds, but the area is best know for the Big Five: caribou, moose, dall sheep, grizzly bears and wolves. I am fortunate as a professional wildlife photographer to acquire a special road permit that allows me to drive the full 92 miles of the park road with my private vehicle. The public may access this road beyond mile 30 by tour bus, hiking or biking but not by private vehicle. Having a private vehicle gives me unparelled access to the wildlife of the "inner Denali."
The park is best know for the tallest mountain in North America — Mount McKinley at 20,320 feet. To the locals and named by the Athabascans, it is known as Denali, the great one. When visible, the mountain dominates the landscape for hundreds of miles. However, it is partially visible only 30 percent of the time and fully visible 16 percent of the time. It is even more rare to experience fully visible alpenglow sunrises and sunsets, as we were able to witness during the summer solstice on June 21. At summer solstice, sunset was at 12:21 a.m. and sunrise was 3:33 a.m., only 3 hours and 12 minutes different. It just never gets dark. We were shooting images all night long.