Visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve can explore the land on either marked trails or off-trail in almost any direction. The park doesn't contain many trails, and most of the marked trails are short enough to the point that you could travel along several on one day. The reason for such a small amount of trails is that the park exists in order to provide visitors a chance to explore the wilderness. The majority of marked trails are located around the Denali Visitor Center. Some of the trails follow alongside the Park Road and connect the visitor center to other park facilities, such as the kennels and Riley Creek Campground, near the park entrance. Other trails travel into the immediate surroundings of the Park Road, offering visitors a chance to find some solace while still having a marked path to follow. Most trails are considered easy to moderate in difficulty. There are also a few trails that are found further into the park, beyond the Denali Visitor Center.
The Savage River Loop can be found in the Savage River Area, located at Miles 13-15 on the Park Road. This 2 mile long, easy walk travels along the river. The trail surface can be uneven and rugged in some spots, but there is not much change in elevation. Visitors can reach this trail by car or via a shuttle from the park entrance. The Savage Alpine Trail, stretching more than four miles, is a more strenuous hike, and connects the Savage River Campground to the Savage River area.
Located at Mile 66 on the Park Road, the Eielson Visitor Center area offers spectacular views of Denali on clear days. Visitors can reach the visitor center by shuttles traveling to Eielson and beyond. The Tundra Loop is located near the visitor center in alpine country and is only one third of a mile long. There is also an additional one fourth of a mile, one-way trail that branches off of the Tundra Loop. The more difficult Eielson Alpine Trail is a steep hike at 1,000 feet up Thorofare Ridge. The trail is less than one mile, and provides amazing views on a clear day.
The Wonder Lake area, found at Mile 85 along the Park Road, contains the McKinley Bar Trail. The 2.5 mile long, one-way trail is the only one in the area. It travels past several small ponds, providing a chance to see waterfowl and through spruce forests. Hiking off-trail excited some visitors, but worries and confuses others. The Denali Park Road and the park's bus system, as well as the terrain itself, make hiking off-trail more approachable to nervous visitors. Photo: Hortiguela/Fotolia
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