Given the serene and widespread natural beauty of Denali National Park and Preserve, it’s no wonder they’ve established the Artist-in-Residence Program, which invites about a half-dozen artists, writers, composers, etc. to spend time at a historic cabin in Denali over the summer. The program is all about finding new ways for visitors to experience Denali. During this residency, artists will participate in and lead hands-on activities with visitors in order to provide inspiration and insight into the park.
The Denali National Park and Preserve sits at the foothills of the Alaska Range and contains the tallest mountain peak in North America. Measuring at 20,310 feet, climbing this mountain is no easy feat. The first climb was accomplished in 1913 and the location has now become a hot spot for expert climbers to challenge themselves.
Denali’s history goes back a long time and visitors can explore some of that history through its fossils. Denali’s Cantwell Formation, which is roughly 70 million years old, contains an abundance of dinosaur fossils. Thousands of trace fossils have been found, including the 2005 discovery of a theropod fossil (a three-toed carnivore) which became the first fossil found in interior Alaska.
Another main attraction at Denali National Park is its diverse wildlife. The park contains 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, and over 1,500 species of plants. The largest mammals, and those many visitors journey here in hopes of spotting, include moose, wolves, caribou, grizzly bears, and Dall sheep.
One of the more notable and rare species living in the Denali National Park and Preserve is the wood frog. The lone species of amphibian in all of Denali, the wood frog has adapted in order to endure the harsh winters in Alaska. In order to survive, they have adapted so that their bodies freeze solid throughout the winter months, their hearts stop beating and they stop breathing completely. Cryptoprotectant chemicals within their bodies protect their cells as they hibernate, until the spring months when they thaw and return to the ponds.
Denali is also one of the best places in the U.S. to watch the Northern Lights. Although Auroras occur all year round, it’s only in early spring, winter, and fall that the night sky is dark enough to see the lights after a strong solar storm. Whether or not visitors are able to view this spectacular phenomenon, this park provides a stunning view of the stars on any clear night.