National Park Service


Date of this Version



Published in Weber, Samantha, and David Harmon, eds. 2008. Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2007 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Hancock, Michigan: The George Wright Society.


Today, Denali National Park and Preserve is one of the largest units in the national park system. The entire unit encompasses about 6.1 million acres, of which a little over threequarters (4.7 million acres) are national park, with the remainder being a national preserve, where sport hunting is allowed. About 425,000 people visited Denali in 2006. Most of them arrived at the park’s eastern entrance and boarded either a tour bus or shuttle bus and headed down the park road in search of one of the “big five” wildlife species that inhabit the area (mountain sheep, caribou, grizzly bear, moose, and wolf ), along with great views of Mount McKinley (Figure 1) and the chance to enjoy a series of remarkable wilderness landscapes. Many others, however, enjoy the park’s backcountry on hiking and backcountry trips; more than a thousand people every year try climbing Mount McKinley or one of the other high Alaska Range peaks; and a number of local residents take advantage of the park’s subsistence hunting opportunities.