Denali… so cool they named an all terrain vehicle after it. Located just south of the Arctic Circle, Denali National Park (Koyukon Athabaskan for “The High One”, Dghelaayce ‘e in Ahtna) is the highest mountain peak in the United States and sees about 20 hours of sunlight in summer.
No day is this longer than the summer solstice on June 21, when Denali sees a full 20 hours and 49 minutes of daylight. These extremely long days are a great advantage to visitors, who can experience enough activities for two days in one making the most of their vacation: by land, air and water.
So, for those looking for an adventure (and wanting to take full advantage of the light), the experts at Denali Park Resorts, operators of the park’s bus tours and activities, have come up with a kickass itinerary for you.
What are you waiting for?
6 a.m.: Breakfast at the Courtyard Café. Opening at 4:30 a.m., McKinley Chalet Resort’s Courtyard Café is the perfect way to start the morning. Shuttles to all park activates leave from the Resort making it a convenient place to start the day.
7 a.m.: Board the Kantishna Experience Bus Tour. This is the only guided bus tour that travels the full 92-miles of the park road, ending at the historic mining district of Kantishna, where the park’s original residents, explorers and stewards called home. At Kantishna you will visit Fannie Quigley’s home and enjoy lunch, while along the way you will have ample opportunity to photography Denali’s wildlife and hopefully see Mount McKinley.
2 p.m.: Leave Kantisna aboard a Kantishna Air Taxi sightseeing plane. Now that you have seen Denali from the ground it’s time to get airborne to see this beautiful expanse from the sky. Your pilot will expertly guide you through the Alaska Range over glaciers, rivers and animals below. Weather permitting; you will fly over the north face of Mount McKinley for a spectacular view. An on board naturalist will help interpret the scenes below as you soar over the park.
6 p.m.: After arriving back to the hotel around 4 p.m., you’ll have some time to rest and recharge before heading to Explore Denali Rafting to see this beautiful landscape by water. The glacial-fed Nenana River makes up the eastern border of Denali National Park and rafting is the best way to experience its wonder. Protected from the icy waters with dry suits, rafters have three ways to run the river: grab an oar and be part of the action with a paddle run, sit back and let the guide do the rowing with a canyon run, or have a peaceful and relaxing float on a wilderness run.
10 p.m. Return to McKinley Chalet Resort or McKinley Village Lodge and enjoy dinner on the balcony. Don’t worry about it getting dark… sunset is still three hours away!
Kantishna Air Taxi can be booked at www.katair.com or by calling (907) 644-8222. A discount will be given on tours for those who book the air taxi out of the park.