Park History

Park History


Denali National Park & Preserve

Denali National Park and Preserve was established as Mt. McKinley National Park on February 26, 1917. The original park was designated a wilderness area and incorporated into Denali National Park and Preserve.

Alaska Natives are the ones that named the mountain Denali, although locals may use the term "the mountain", Alaska Natives are more likely to use the name of the mountain, Denali. Denali is a Koyukon Athabaskan term that means "the high one" or "the tall one". With Denali’s high peaks and dramatic vertical rise, the weather surrounding the peaks can change quickly. Clouds often hide Denali from view, making North America’s highest point a treasured prize on your Alaskan adventure.

The abundance of untamed wilderness and unique wildlife make Denali one of the greatest natural places in the world. Here, you’ll have a chance to see grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, foxes, and wolves. Many smaller animals also inhabit the park, such as arctic ground squirrels, hoary marmots, pikas (small mammal with round body & ears, no tail), and snowshoe hares. With over 150 species of birds including arctic tern, American golden plover, arctic warbler, willow, ptarmigan, and golden eagles, Denali is a bird-watcher’s paradise.