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Backpacker Magazine – June 2011

National Parks: Denali

Denali isnít just for experts. These guinea pigs will prove it. Probably.

by: Ted Alvarez

Crystal Creek Basin (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Crystal Creek Basin (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Descending to the Thorofare River (Photo by Elissa Alvarez)
Descending to the Thorofare River (Photo by Elissa Alvarez)
Cozy camp in a sheltered spot (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Cozy camp in a sheltered spot (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Crossing the Thorofare River (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Crossing the Thorofare River (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
View from 4,724-foot Contact Pass (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
View from 4,724-foot Contact Pass (Photo by Ted Alvarez)



ASK A RANGER
Q: How can I score permits for the best units?

A: You can’t game Denali’s system—officials issue permits for the park’s 87 units one day in advance, and you must reserve them in person—but you can give yourself an advantage. Treat it like the DMV: Show up early (office opens at 9 a.m.—get there at 8) in your Gore-Tex best, with two or three itineraries sketched out. Research available zones and quotas if you arrive a day earlier; prior knowledge will help you lobby for preferred units at the counter. “You can target specific units, but it’s better to aim for specific types of routes,” says Ranger Alex Lindeman. “Before you arrive, decide your daily mileage, days in the park, and terrain preferences. Are you eager to climb? Intimidated by river crossings? Do you mind bushwhacking? The more you share, the better we can guide you to an itinerary you’ll most enjoy.” It also pays to look the part: “If someone shows up and doesn’t have the equipment—or looks like he just bought it—we’ll guide him to great dayhikes,” Lindeman admits.




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Eric Troyer
Oct 14, 2012

"The park has only had 23 bear-caused human injuries in its 94-year existenceónone fatal." Unfortunately, that last part is not true. First fatality was recorded this August. See this article: http://www.adn.com/2012/08/26/2600680/denali-hikers-camera-offers-clues.html

Otherwise, the answer is spot on.

Al Dargiel
Feb 13, 2012

Catching up on reading magazines piled up at home. Read this article five months after returning from our 10 day trip to Alaska which included Denali NP and stopping at Eielson Visitor Center. Gives a better and more appreciative view of the area.

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