Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Denali National Park, Alaska: Mount McKinley

There are a variety of ways to see Mount McKinley when visiting Denali National Park. You can walk there, of course. But the hike is a long one, since it is a few dozen miles from the park's only road.You can try to spot it from a distance. But that depends on the weather, and the darn mountain is blocked by clouds more than half the time.

Or, you can cheat. In a manner of speaking.

Airplanes are available for "flight-seeing" tours of the park and of the mountain. We saved up our pennies and took off for a trip that went right over the mountains and around the summit of McKinley. The journey lasted a little more than an hour. It was a spectacular flight with many impressive viewpoints. We flew with only two other people and a pilot, so it was almost cozy.

I could have picked a photo of the top of the mountain for this particular page, but I opted to go in another direction. This is below the summit. If you look carefully at the middle of the picture (click on it to blow up the image), you'll see several tents. This is the campsite for those trying to climb Mount McKinley.

Based on the number of tents, you might guess that the number of climbers is rather large. In fact, the National Park Service counts them. There were about 400 people on the mountain when we were there in early June. The yearly total is close to 1,300.

Here's a video of what the trip looks like:

Yes, it's an expensive trip. But you're only going to do it once.

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