Denali, the tallest peak in the US, and Denali - the National Park is symbolic of the ruggedly beautiful, wild, and majestic images that is Alaska. The six million acre span became a national park in 1917 as a way to protect the Dall Sheep that thrive on the alpine slopes and tors of the mountain. It is one of the most visited places in Alaska and offers something unique for nearly everyone who visits.
Denali National Park is 240 miles north of Anchorage with easy access thanks to the Alaska Park Highway. Driving takes about 5.5 hours, or you can arrive via the train from Anchorage in approximately 8-hours. From Fairbanks, the Park is 120 south along the Parks Highway and drivable in about 3-hours. The train from Fairbanks to Denali takes a little more than four hours. Both options offer scenic and panoramic views of the mountain and territory.
Why Visit Denali National Park?
Denali offers a design that enables visitors to experience the wilderness. Denali is not a manicured park with tidy trails and roads. It is a place that encourages you to get off the beaten path and explore that natural environment. What that means is you are free to wander, and that is one reason why so many hikers and backpackers beat a path to Denali every summer.
The Park is open year-round, though in winter the road into the Park and there is just one, maybe open or closed. That does not stop people from hiking or snowshoeing in and enjoying the cold season. Hiking and snowshoeing are made more accessible due to the dog sledding trails, and you can enjoy dog sledding. There are opportunities to cross country ski, or you can enjoy winter biking within the Park. The Park has an Iditarod dog kennel and dog rangers as well.
In the summer, the Park is blazing with activity. There are many lodges within the Park, and the National Park System recommends a two-night, three-day stay. There are so many things to experience, though, that it would take years to explore the Park fully. There are many restaurants here too, so finding a meal and a place to sleep is not difficult, but reservations for both are necessary. The nearest town to Denali National Park - its entrance - is Healy, which is just 12 miles south down the Parks Highway.
There is a single road within Denali, and it stretches for 92 miles. It is one of the best ways to explore the Park. The first 15-miles of the road are paved, and the remainder is graveled. The road is open in summer, but from fall to late spring, the road might be closed due to snow. Getting around in the Park is not difficult, though the terrain may be challenging in spots. They have bus tours which show you the highlights of the massive and beautiful Park. You can rent bicycles, hike, or hop on and off the park shuttle system.
Other activities include fly fishing, rafting down the Nenana River, flightseeing, taking ATV tours, touring the dog kennels, and chatting with the Iditarod Masters, canoeing, and wildlife viewing, including bears, Dall sheep, eagles and more. An excellent place to start is the Denali Education Center, where you can also take in community activities.
Whether you come in summer and explore the warm season or the winter and experience the beautiful and majestic Park, you will find a wild place full of things to explore. It is that wilderness that draws so many people each year to this beautiful mountain. If you'll be visiting Denali be sure to check out our list of the top 10 things to do while visiting Denali.
Fishing Denali National Park
Denali is not known for its fishing. The rivers and many of the streams here are glacially fed, and that means the water is "dirty". With that being said, there are fishing spots within the Park.
While the fishing is not overly abundant within the Park, there are excellent opportunities to fish here and the primary target is Arctic Grayling. Arctic Grayling are a fantastic fish for fly fishing. Their tall sailfin and beautiful coloration are second only to the fact that they are excellent to eat. The rugged and wild Park makes a beautiful place to experience fishing in Alaska. It's too cold for Rainbow Trout in the streams & rivers but there are also some lakes that offer Rainbow Trout fishing.
While fishing yourself is possible guided fishing is your best options...and is available within the Park and in the waters near the Park. The primary targets for most guides in the area are Grayling & Trout. For those interested in exploring on their own head to Wonder Lake at mile 85 on the Park Road, and you can vie for Lake Trout. You can also target Arctic Grayling on the Savage River at M 15 on the Park Road. For guided fishing, there are also opportunities on the Nenana River and its tributaries. The key to successfully fishing, Denali, is to find the tributaries that offer clear water and avoid the silted rivers and lakes that take the brunt of the glacial melts. Outside of the Park are some fantastic waterways. Those include Fish Creek, the Jack River, Seattle Creek, and Wells Creek. You can also hit some of the local areas on the way to the Park. If you do plan to venture out on your own be sure to check the Denali National Park Fishing Overview & Alaska Department of Fish & Game for up to date fishing info regulations.
With the long list of outdoor activities, in-park lodging, and restaurants, Denali remains a world-wide attraction.
Top Rated Denali Fishing Guides
Other Fishing Destinations To Consider
Alaska Parks Highway
A 358-mile adventure from Anchorage to Fairbanks - There are many fishing spots along the Parks Highway...most are smaller walk & wade streams but there are also some small lakes as well.
Fishing in the greater Willow area is the closest consistent good fishing near Anchorage - It boasts many different creeks, rivers, and lakes to fish that receive far less pressure than most systems in Alaska.
The Kenai Peninsula provides easy access to world-class freshwater & saltwater fishing, fantastic outdoor adventures, friendly and welcoming communities…all within a couple hours drive of Anchorage.
If you happen to be in Anchorage with limited time and want to experience Alaska fishing there are lodges/guides that do day trips out of Anchorage…They'll pick you up or fly you out to prime fishing destinations.
Centrally Located on the Kenai Peninsula - A small town situated along the banks of the Kenai River & close to the Russian River as well