Denali State Park vs Denali National Park?

Apr 27th, 2010, 07:09 AM
  #1  
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Denali State Park vs Denali National Park?

Hi,

I'm trying to decide whether to go to Denali National Park or go to Denali State Park instead and hike Kesugi Ridge. My concern is that Denali National Park is heavily regulated and crowded, and that it has become a "things to do" in Alaska.

I'm thinking about doing a bus tour into Denali National Park as it seems to be a fairly cheap safari, and then backpack the Kesugi Ridge in the state park. Or skip the National Park all together and just experience the state park. From what I gathered, views of McKinley mountain are impressive from state park, and it is less busy.

Thanks.
travelgirl2009 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 07:19 AM
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I don't remember seeing Mt. McKinley from the state park, but we did have cloudy weather. We did RV camp at the state park and liked it a lot. Not crowded (we were there about July 7)
bigtyke is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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Less crowded at the SP, also some great views of McKinley when it's 'out'.

More wildlife viewing in the NP for sure.

The NP backcountry camping is, as you put it, 'heavily regulated', but this simply ensures that you have plenty of solitude in your assigned 'unit'. If you can get a permit for the high tundra units I'd personally rather backpack in the NP. If you can only get your permit in an area where you are whacking thru thick brush or crossing a glacial stream over and over I think I'd pick Kesugi Ridge.

We preferred the NP because of the amazing wildlife sightings we always seem to get (grizzlies, wolves, sheep, caribou, moose) but you have a pretty good handle on the differences and maybe the SP is better for you if fewer people is the goal.
Bill_H is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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Thank you very much for comments. I guess that if it will be cloudy, I will not be seeing Denali either from NP or SP .

I'll chew on this info and decide. I would prefer a more solitary experience but would love to see wildlife as well.
travelgirl2009 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 09:47 AM
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Question for someone who has done backcountry camping: I haven't studied the map of the 'units' in NP yet, but which units would be considered 'good'?
travelgirl2009 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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which units would be considered 'good'?

I've only done lengthy day-hikes during the 30-odd early-fall days we've stayed at the wilderness lodges near Kantishna, mainly to photograph critters, but my favorite unit is Stony Hill (33), which is high tundra with great views, fewer mosquitos and a general lack of heavy brush. Heavy brush is bad because you can't see bears until they are too close, and it's a haven for bugs.

http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/unit33.htm is the unit info site. The general info link is http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/map.htm

Here's a photo my wife took at the Stony Hill overlook a couple years ago, with one of the shuttle busses visible on the right.
http://www.hiltonphotography.net/car...08/Image25.htm ... you can hike left here and be out of sight in a short while in a maze of canyons, or climb the ridge to the right for incredible views (there are no trails anywhere). If you click on the 'thumbnails' link then row 3 has more pics taken near Stony Hill and Thorofare Pass looking to the right. Usually we can find sheep, grizzlies and caribou in here.

Finally, some 'critter shots' from 2008, mostly about 5-20 miles to the west of Stony Hill, though one bear and one caribou were near this Stony Hill unit: http://www.hiltonphotography.net/alaska-2008/ This is why we go to the National Park instead of the State Park.

If you have a choice of dates then June and early July are often buggy with mosquitos. Late Aug and the first week in Sept is our favorite time to visit because the tundra has turned red, the moose and caribou are active with the first stirrings of the rut, and bears are easier to see as they chow down on the blueberries.

Polychrome (31) is another good high-tundra option but there are no views of McKinley and not as much wildlife: http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/unit31.htm

I would avoid the units where you start your hike in a river channel, if possible.

Goes without saying that you are comfortable camping and hiking in grizzly bear country, right?
Bill_H is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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Crowds and the National Park do not go together. All you have to do to avoid crowds is stay away from Glitter Gulch. And that's simple.

As for the numerous buses transiting the park, it still is NOT crowded. I'm assuming you do know the differences between the "tour" buses and "shuttle" buses?
BudgetQueen is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 08:34 AM
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The pictures in Bill's link are so amazing. I am wondering if park shuttle buses stop on Stony Hill overlook? How far we should go? Eilson visitor center is far enough for view and wildlife?
AnnHong is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 08:54 AM
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Ann, thanks for the compliment.

I am wondering if park shuttle buses stop on Stony Hill overlook?

Yes, if it is clear they will play it up a bit since it's the first close-up full-on view of McKinley ('wait until you see what's over this next rise') and have always stopped on the busses I've ridden on. But of course often it's cloudy and the mountain isn't visible.

You need to take the Eielson or Wonder Lake busses to get this far into the park, the Toklat bus turns around a few miles short of Stony Hill.

Eilson visitor center is far enough for view and wildlife?

Yes.
Bill_H is offline  

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