Photo Friday: The Glaciers of Denali National Park

Posted by on Aug 12, 2016

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Denali National Park spans a vast six million acres in central Alaska, and contains the tallest mountain on the continent that gives the park its namesake: Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley. The summit reaches over 20,000 feet above sea level, and is one of the most isolated mountain peaks in the world—following only Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Glaciers cover an incredible one million acres of the park, making up one-sixth of the total land area.

View of Denali from Stony overlook (Credit: NPS Photo / Jacob W. Frank)

View of Denali from Stony overlook (Credit: NPS Photo / Jacob W. Frank)

The park contains hundred of glaciers, but the largest flow from the peak of Denali. Kahiltna Glacier is the not only the longest glacier in the park, but at 44 miles it is the longest glacier in the entire Alaskan Range.

Kahiltna glacier, on the southwestern slope of Denali (Swisseduc)

Kahiltna glacier, on the southwestern slope of Denali (Swisseduc)

Most Denali mountain climbing expeditions start on Kahiltna glacier at Mount McKinley basecamp–or, as its called by climbers, “Kahiltna International Airport.”

Base Camp: It's a 35 minute flight from Talkeetna in a ski equipped aircraft. Most climbers land at Base Camp on Kahiltna Glacier. (Alaska.org)

Base Camp: It’s a 35 minute flight from Talkeetna in a ski equipped aircraft. Most climbers land at Base Camp on Kahiltna Glacier. (Alaska.org)

In addition to offering mountain climbing, Denali is the only U.S National Park with a working kennel. Sled dogs are used throughout the park to reach isolated locations within the wilderness area, and park visitors also have the chance to mush for themselves.

The Climbing Routes Litter Dog sled team in Denali National Park (NPS)

The Climbing Routes Litter Dog sled team in Denali National Park (NPS)

 

The park is also home to the world’s deepest glacier, the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier. The ice is a staggering 3700 feet deep, and is tucked between 4000 foot tall walls of the gorge.

Plane flying through the Great Gorge, to the right of Mount Dickey (Alaska.org)

Plane flying through the Great Gorge, to the right of Mount Dickey (Alaska.org)

 

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