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Denali reflecting in Wonder Lake

A Guide to Denali

McKinley Creekside Cabins, Café, and Bakery is located just 15 minutes south of the entrance to Denali National Park.  Denali is over six million acres, home to abundant wildlife; grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, fox, wolves, to name a few and the tallest peak in North America, Mt. Denali, towering at 20,3210 ft. 

The word Denali means "the high one" or "the great one" in the native language

and refers to the mountain itself.  Athabaskan's are the indigenous native people who call interior Alaska their home.


To tour Denali National Park will take a full day. To see 1/2 of the park will take 6 hours, to see the entire park will take 12 hours.  We recommend you plan on three days for your time in Denali.

  • Day 1 -Travel Day

    • 4-4.5 hour drive from Anchorage to McKinley Creekside Cabins

  • Day 2 -Tour the park

    • 6-12 hour day

  • Day 3-Explore Denali

    • Hiking, rafting, husky tour, ATV adventure, or just relax.

  • Day 4-Travel to your next destination

    • 2-2.5 hours to Fairbanks (North) or , 2.5 hr. to Talkeetna (South) 4-4.5 hrs. to Anchorage (South).

Whether you have one day or three, our friendly and knowledgeable staff at McKinley Creekside Cabins will help you get the most out of your time in Denali.  

Old Denali Highway

Anyone who has ever road-tripped down the Denali Highway knows exactly what all the rage is about. The panoramic beauty is incredible, while the tranquility of being so remote is empowering. When National Geographic listed Alaska’s beloved Denali Highway as one of the top 10 greatest drives in America, we weren’t surprised in the slightest. A drive on the 135-mile-long (mostly gravel) Denali Highway is worthy of everyone’s bucket list this summer season.

Once the gateway to Denali National Park, the Old Denali Highway is a 135-mile gravel road is surrounded by pristine nature & is a photographer’s paradise. Snow-capped mountains, icy glaciers & panoramic vistas flank the Denali Highway!

Read National Geographic Article

Read:  Denali Highway – Best of the Last Frontier   By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

If you have time we highly recommend taking a drive on the Old Denali Highway.  

*This is a gravel road-make sure you have permission to drive on unpaved roads.  

Need to rent a vehicle you know can handle Alaskan back roads?

Check out Alaska 4x4 Rentals

Or take a tour with Denali Jeep Excursions.  This is an excellent way to see the Old Denali Highway in the privacy and comfort of your own Jeep, but also learn about the history of the area. 

Northern lights

Denali In Winter 

Denali is open, but McKinley Creekside Cabins is closed.

Check out  Denali National Park Winter Activities.

Winter is an amazing and powerful season in Denali. For much of the year, Denali's landscape is blanketed in snow, its rivers and lakes locked in thick ice, its animals in hibernation, long-since migrated or making the best existence they can in temperatures that routinely reach -40 F (-40 C).

Though the Denali Park Road typically closes at Mile 3 for several months, there is plenty to do.

Winter Visitor Center-At Mile 1.4 on the park road is the Murie Science and Learning Center, which acts as Denali's winter Visitor Center. It is open daily from 9 am - 4:30 pm, except major holidays. At the center, you can watch the park film, "Heartbeats of Denali," talk with a ranger about conditions on park trails, acquire a winter backcountry camping permit, pay the park entrance fee, borrow snowshoes and more.

Denali's Zero Landfill Project 

Almost 331 million people visited America’s National Parks in 2017, and they

left behind more than footprints.  TIPS for traveling GREEN!


Each summer, more than half a million people visit Denali National Park and Preserve. During the tourism season, large amounts of trash are generated and unique challenges are created for park managers and nearby communities.  When Denali celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2017, a record number of people (more than 640,000) visited the park. Yet, 24% less trash was sent to the landfill than the year before! How is this possible? It’s thanks to the Denali Zero-Landfill Project, a catalyst for innovative solutions to the park’s seasonal waste management challenges.

creekside volunteers

Photo Credit Lydia Moro

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Read article: Healy Students given the statewide Spirit of Youth Discovery Award for starting the ZLAP-Zero Landfill Ambassador Program.


Today, visitors to Denali will find recycling bins throughout the park for aluminum, glass and plastic #1, #2, and #5. Reusable bags, mugs, and water bottles are available to purchase in gift shops. Many boxed lunches are now fully recyclable.

Behind the scenes, new equipment and partnerships are making operations more efficient and sustainable.


These changes are making a big difference and it’s easy to help! Visitors are an important part of the solution. By recycling properly and reducing waste, visitors help conserve resources and protect parks. Explore the following to learn more about the project and the simple ways that you can help.

From the Denali Education Center in partnership with the National Park Service, and the Denali ZERO Landfill Initiative
#DontFeedTheLandFills #KeepItGreenKeepItClean

Creekside Keeps It Green! 

tracey with greens

Photo Credit Robin DeLong 

At McKinley Creekside Cabins we are committed to doing what we can, where we can, when we can, period.  We love our planet and are finding ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  


It may seem like a monumental task but if we each do our part we can reduce our footprint leaving more for the generations to come.

Awareness brings change.

Do what you can, where you can, when you can.

It's that simple.


Here are some of the ways we are trying to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE:

  • We source locally when possible, even growing our own fresh herbs and veggies in our ever expanding greenhouse! - REDUCE

  • We have gone from can soda to fountain -REDUCE

  • Styrofoam containers to biodegradable -REDUCE

  • Hotel body products are all bulk-no mini bottles trashed here!. -REDUCE

  • Beer bottles to beer cans -REDUCE

  • Straws on request only - REDUCE 

  • Refill our printer ink cartridges -REUSE

  • Recycle aluminum, glass and plastic #1, #2, #5 -RECYCLE

We take our role as stewards of our beautiful land seriously! There are lots of opportunities for staff to volunteer
or trash pick up, community clean up, and other projects in Denali that promote sustainability. 

You Can Help Too!​

  1. REDUCE-Use refillable water bottles, coffee mugs, and shopping bags. 

  2. REUSE- your bath towel -REDUCES water, detergents, and power. 

  3. RECYCLE- your key cards -REUSE #DontFeedTheLandfills 

  4. RECYCLE- your aluminum, glass and plastic #1, #2, #5 in containers/stations provided.   

#Don'tFeedTheLandfills, #KeepItGreenAndClean

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