Ray Atkins
Pilot & Guide
Ray Atkins came to Alaska in 1961, eager to go hunting for a brown bear – but it cost as much to hire a guide as to buy a new pickup truck – $2,500. He began his own flying service in Cantwell in the early 1970’s. “I don’t know another occupation that lets you travel around like this. You meet a lot of nice people from all over the world. You’re involved with hunting, fishing, flying little airplanes. You wouldn’t get to do that if you worked in a factory.”

Lucy Tyrrell
Park Researcher & Quilter
Lucy Tyrrell came to Alaska in 2000 from Wisconsin as Research Administrator for the park. She keeps track of park-related research projects, and follows up when a project is finished, making sure people know about them. “I’m excellent at de-jargonizing,” she says. Lucy lives north of Healy. She has sled dogs, and is also an artist. She paints watercolors, makes quilts, and keeps illustrated journals.
Lucy Tyrrell Denali Park Researcher
Mary Carey
Alaska legend Mary Carey came to this area as a widow in the early 1960’s and promptly homesteaded 100 miles from the nearest road at a spot with the best view of McKinley she’d ever seen.

Mary Carey was friends with the great bush pilot Don Sheldon and constantly advocated the building of the Parks Highway. When she wrote to then-governor Bill Egan about the project, he famously replied that, “Alaska already has two roads, how many do you want in one state?” When the Parks Highway was finally built by her homestead in 1973 she built a lodge at mile 134 and then proceeded to write 16 books, including “Alaska, Not For A Woman."
Mary Carey-Alaskan Legend
Kevin Hamel
Birds On The Run...
Kevin Hamel is a local restauranteur who lives and works in Healy. He came to Alaska as a child, and went to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where he earned a degree in chemistry, and took photojournalism. Working all day at his cafe, he doesn’t have much time now for taking pictures – except while driving his truck to Anchorage to haul back eggs, bread and other provisions. Like many local people, he knows how to use his time creatively. Taking full advantage of his environment when he has the chance, he stops and photographs wildlife he sees along the way.
Jimmy Tohill
Photographer and poet Jimmy Tohill has been capturing moments of Alaska’s endless beauty with his camera and poetry since he first came to Alaska as a river guide in 1987 from Colorado. He and his wife Vicki built their log home in Healy, and operate Old Sourdough Studio. Jimmy photographs Denali's wildlife, scenic portraits as well as action photos of rafters in the Nenana Canyon. This photo of him was taken by his wife.
Kevin Hamel-Denali Photographer and small business owner
Jimmy Tohill-Denali Photographer_Poet
Native Americans
Guardians of Tradition
A quarter of Cantwell’s residents today are Ahtna Indian, and half of the people who live in Nenana are Native or Native descendents.

This is the westernmost point of the Tanana Athabascan Indian country. The Tanana, along with four other Athabascan Indian groups – the Dena’ina, the Ahtna, the Kolchan, and the Koyukon – lived in an approximate circle around the mountain.

To find out more about Nenana’s history and people, visit the Nenana Cultural Center. Drive into town and turn right along the river to a big log building on the river bank. The picture on the right was taken there during a basket making session led by Nina Alexander.
Nenana Cultural Center basket class
Sonja Schmidt-Denali writer
Sonja Schmidt
Former Schoolteacher & Writer
One of the original publishers of the Denali
Summer Times, Sonja Schmidt taught a range of high school classes in Healy. World traveler, Fulbright Scholar, and once Alaska Teacher of the Year, she said: “My style of teaching is to integrate geography and art and a sense of place in all subjects. My own writing and art reflects this philosophy... it is with this view that the Denali Summer Times was created...”

Sonja is interested in art, world textiles, and world puppetry.
This square from a Denali quilt
Ray Atkins Alaskan Guide
Denali People
Denali People Denali RangerDenali Volunteer
Denali ResearcherDenali Art

Living in the towns near Denali.