Alaska is a land of superlatives. It’s the largest state in America, home to the tallest mountain in North America (Mount McKinley) and more glaciers than people. Alaska has the longest coastline in the country and the most hours of daylight in summer months. The state is known for its wild seafood, spectacular wildlife and the Alaska Highway.
Denali National Park
More then 650 species of flowering plants as well as many species of mosses, liches, fungi, algae, and others grace the slops and valleys of Denali. Only plants adapted to long, bitterly cold winters can survive in this sub arctic wilderness. Deep beds of intermittent permafrost - ground frozen for thousands of years - underlie portions of the park and preserve. Only the thinnest layer of the topsoil thaws each summer to support life.
After the continental glaciers retreated 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, hundreds of years were required to begin building new soils and to begin the slow process of re-vegetation. Denali's lowlands and slopes consist of two major plant associations, taiga and tundra.
Taiga, a Russian word for northern evergreen forest, describes the scant tree growth here near the Arctic Circle. Much of the park and preserve's taiga lies in valleys along the rivers. White and black spruce, the most common trees, are interspersed with quaking aspen, paper birch, larch, and baslam poplar. Strands of deciduous trees occur along streamside gravel bars or where soils have been disturbed by fire or other action. Woods are frequently carpeted with mosses and lichens. Many open areas are filled with shrubs such as dwarf birch, blueberry, and a variety of willow species. The limit of tree growth occurs at about 2,700 feet in the park and preserve. For comparison, the elevation at the park hotel is 1,750 feet. Above the tree limit, taiga gives way to tundra.
Tundra is a fascinating world of dwarfed shrubs and miniaturized wildflowers adapted to a short growing season. There are also two types, moist tundra and dry tundra, with myriad gradations in between.
Sit back and enjoy our Denali National Park video. Sample a taste of the many tours and attractions Denali National Park has to offer such as... wildlife viewing, Mt. McKinley, hiking, dog sled demonstrations, rafting and flightseeing. The video ends with a few shots from the south side of Denali Park including nearby Talkeetna, a riverboat trip and the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge.