Throughout history, attitudes toward wilderness have not always been favorable. Regarded as places of darkness, mystery, wild beasts, and confusion, the beauty of nature was seen only in what was useful. It wasn’t until much more recently that these places were widely considered beautiful and necessary for simply being what they are.
Now, many people including us seek to visit these wild places, to appreciate them, and to catch a glimpse what an untamed world might look like. Denali is one of these places and is frequently thought of as the Jewel of Alaska National Parks.
Denali National Park & Preserve
“There are two kinds of wilderness inside the National Park system. The original two million acres of Denali are designated wilderness. Designated wilderness has the highest level of protection offered by the Federal Government. Nearly all of the other four million acres added by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) are eligible wilderness. According to National Park Service Wilderness Management Policies, eligible wilderness is managed as designated until it is either officially designated, or removed from consideration, both of which require an Act of Congress. Thus almost 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve are protected as wilderness. “
Source: National Park Service – Denali
Camping in Denali
Riding the Bus
Denali Discovery Hikes
Denali – The Mountain
At a staggering 20,308 feet, it is not only the tallest mountain in North America, but also Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua in Argentina. It is regularly climbed today, and while we were there 379 climbers were on the mountain attempting the summit.
Denali has two summits: the South Summit and the North Summit. The South is the one that’s higher and usually climbed, while the North has an elevation of 19,470 ft. Five glaciers flow off the sides of the mountain.
Wilderness & It’s Importance
In the vast wild expanse of Denali, we contemplated how wonderful it was that this place was protected, yet lamented at how hard it was for this park to be created and how hard it is for other places like it to be protected. Before it’s designation as a National Park, even Denali was mined, hunted, and exploited of its resources. And while minimal, the marks of humans inhabiting, studying, and visiting the park bring civilization into this pristine area.
It seems that nowadays wilderness needs to be officially protected in order to be preserved, with boundaries to designated areas to be untrammeled. But even boundaries cannot keep out the macro environmental changes we are seeing occur across the globe. Our world is changing, and wild places like this are often taken for granted. Saving them them is important not only for our mental and spiritual enjoyment, rejuvenation, and inspiration, but also to provide clean water, clean air, and nourishment to humans and all of this planet’s inhabitants.
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