Our exciting trip through Alaska’s backroads started in Denali National Park. Located 5 hours north of Anchorage off the Parks Highway, Denali is larger than the state of Massachusetts and is home to Mount Mckinley, the highest mountain peak in Northern America. Visitors must take shuttles, but the whole park is open to hikers. We stayed at the wilderness camp called Camp Denali run by Jerene and Wally Cole. Hoping for a peek at Mount Mckinley, we took a flightseeing plane that landed us on a glacier at the foot of the great mountain. For information on camping and shuttle service call Denali National Park Headquarters at (907) 683-2294. To contact Camp Denali where we stayed call (907) 683-2290 or check out their web site at http://www.campdenali.com/ . There are many flightseeing services to Mount Mckinley out of the town of Talkeetna, we took Talkeetna Air Taxi at 1-800-533-2219 or log onto their web site at http://www.talkeetnaair.com/.
Ed O'Conners has left his job as a ranger and now teaches high school. There is a new Denali Visitor Center, which includes a bookstore, a restaurant, a bathroom facility and a luggage storage area. Also new is the Murie Science and Learning Center. The Eielson Visitor Center was torn down and has been replaced by a new facility. Visitors may still obtain reservations at the Wilderness Access Center, (previously named the Visitor Access Center). Wilderness Permits for backpackers can now be obtained at the Backcountry Information Center, near the Wilderness Access Center. Pilot Paul Roderick has a new plane, the DeHavilland DHC-3st Turbine Otter, that seats 10. He has expanded his family by two with the addition of children, Tatum and India.
Jerri and Wally are turning the business over to their daughter Jenna and her husband Simon Haam who has become the General Manager of the Camp. Jenna and Simon maintain the same business practices and outdoor experience that Jerri and Wally initiated. The all-day naturalist-guided tours are still very popular and help keep the Camp going. Though the cabins have wooden outhouses, there is a central building with plumbing for toilets and shower stalls. Camp Denali is working on updating their alternative energy equipment and they have constructed a new dining hall, which promotes the use of renewable energy. In related news, Jenna’s brother Land and his wife Laura opened a restaurant in 2005 near the entrance of Denali National Park called 229 Parks Restaurant and Tavern. Laura cooked for 12 years at Camp Denali.
Denali National Park is a glaciated wonderland of wild landscapes and wildlife. And it's home to North America's highest peak, 20,320 foot Mt. McKinley.