Up close and personal. You can take a flight over or around the mountain. You can even land on Mt. McKinley. Photo, Northcountry If you see Denali during your visit, count yourself lucky. The mountain is so tall, that people like to say “it makes its own weather.” Clouds bump up against the peak all summer long, so Mt. McKinley is completely visible only around 20% of the time. 1. Anchorage International Airport Terminal When you arrive at the airport, see if you can glimpse McKinley to the north as you walk out the terminal door.
2. Earthquake Park in Anchorage While in Anchorage, drive west on Northern Lights Boulevard to scenic Earthquake Park overlooking the waters of Cook Inlet. On a clear day you’ll see Mt. Foraker (17,400 ft.) on the left and Mt. McKinley (20,320 ft.) on the right. Best viewing is in the evening.
3. Driving Through Willow on the Parks Highway As you drive north from Anchorage up the George Parks Highway toward Denali Park, you’ll start seeing brief glimpses of Mt. McKinley, looming up in the middle of the road, starting at Milepost 69.
4. As You Enter the Town of Talkeetna A hundred miles north of Anchorage, on the Parks Highway, you’ll come to a spur road that goes 14.5 miles back toward the old railroad town of Talkeetna. Although you’re still 124 miles from the entrance to Denali Park, the mountain is very close here. On a clear day, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Foraker, and many other mountains and foothills of the Alaska Range are in full view. Stop at the hilltop pullout, just before you enter Talkeetna, to take a picture.
5. Trapper Creek & Petersville Road When you leave Talkeetna, you’ll go back onto the Parks Highway. The next stop on the way north, at Milepost 115, is Trapper Creek. The views of Mt. McKinley from Trapper Creek and the Petersville Road, a former mining trail that skirts the southside of McKinley, are exceptional.
6. “Denali Viewpoint South” at Mile 135 Parks On your way to Denali National Park, you’ll drive through Denali State Park. The views of the mountain from this state park are unparalleled. The Alaska State Park system has built pullouts with displays and telescopes pointed at the mountain. Several lodges also have excellent views. 7. “Denali Viewpoint North” at Mile 163 Parks At Mile 163, you’ll come across the second Denali Viewpoint – again with displays. Notice that your perspective on the mountain is starting to shift. As you continue to travel farther north, from this point, Mt. McKinley will move to the south – even though you’re headed toward the official park entrance. 8. The Pulloff at Mile 9 on the Park Road You won’t see Denali from the park entrance, like you did farther south. To view the mountain while in Denali National Park, you’ll take a bus down the Park Road. Your first view of the mountain is at Mile 9. 9. Reflection Pond at Wonder Lake Deep inside Denali National Park, at the end of a 6 hour, 85-mile bus ride, you’ll come to Wonder Lake and Reflection Pond. If it’s a good day, you’ll get a classic view of Mt. McKinley, reflected in the water.
10. The University Campus Overlook in Fairbanks Finally, you can see the mountain from Fairbanks. Drive to the University of Alaska campus in Fairbanks and see Mt. McKinley from the university’s scenic overlook, near the university museum.