by Jonathan Hermann


Cloud-piercing, 20,310-foot-high Mount Denali cannot be ignored. North America’s highest mountain is massive from miles away, a formidable goliath of snow-packed granite that towers protectively over the surrounding area like a proud, rock-hewn lion. And proud it should be, for Denali National Park and Preserve is a pristine wilderness that is simply unmatched.

Denali National Park spans over six million acres, enclosing and protecting one of the world’s last great frontiers. The rugged terrain changes throughout the park, from primordial forests dense with soaring pines to stark tundra scattered with shrubs and saw-toothed mountains chiseled by glaciers. Denali wildlife covers a variety of species, as well. Grizzlies, caribou and curve-horned sheep walk the grounds, while gyrfalcons and golden eagles claim the cloud-filled skies.

Even though the park is hundreds of miles north of Anchorage, Denali is accessible to cruise passengers. Most cruise lines offer land-and-sea packages or pre- or post-cruise tours, making it an easy bucket-list item to check off. These tours often include luxurious wilderness lodges and locally-inspired culinary delights, making your time here truly immersive and authentic. If you are fortunate enough to venture to Denali, here are the top six activities to add to your list.

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Helicopter tour over Denali National Park


Helicopter flight-seeing over Denali’s changing terrain — from birch forests to Mt. Denali’s Muldrow Glacier — gives you a bird’s-eye view of its rare and virtually intact wilderness treasures, as well as the trails forged by early frontiersmen. We can point you to tours that include touching down for a glacier walk or an unforgettable hike in a wildflower-filled alpine valley. 

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Discover the Beauty of Denali


For history and nature buffs, themed tours will take you deep into the heart of Denali. They explore the natural history of the land, including its thriving flora and fauna, as well as archeological findings dating to the Ice Age. Other tours examine the wildlife and indigenous vegetation, or you can explore Athabascan villages and frontier settlements on your way to the well-carved mines that lured prospectors during the gold rush.

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Dogsleds make traversing the park easy


Due to Denali’s wonderful lack of 8-lane superhighways, bushy-tailed dogs are the park’s prime means of transportation. During your time here, you can see teams of exuberant dogs pulling sleds, learn how they mushed through frigid terrain for pioneer survival and possibly meet a champion of the famed Iditarod dogsled race.

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White water rafting in Denali National Park


All the melting snow of Mount Denali has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is the Nenana River. Take a wild water adventure into the river’s pristine environment as it meanders through this winding glacial valley. Guided expeditions run from tranquil kayaking in calm waters to white-water rafting for all adventure levels.

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Tee up for a round you'll never forget in Denali


See how far your “Fore!” echoes while golfing on Denali’s high tundra. Golfing the nine-hole Denali Black Diamond Course and dining at the clubhouse, which overlooks beautiful Mt. Healy, will quickly rise to the top of your “greatest courses ever played” list. 

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Relax in rustic luxury at McKinley Chalet Resort


Holland America Line combines the best of an Alaska cruise with the most authentic and immersive ways to experience the wonders of Denali National Park & Preserve, starting with a stay of up to three nights at our own McKinley Chalet Resort, a premium property near the entrance of the park.

Contact one of our travel advisors to book your Alaska adventure today!

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