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7. Denali National Park, Alaska

Mount Denali on a fall day.
At 20,310 feet, the solitary Mount Denali dominates the great Alaskan wilderness. Photo by Patrick Federi licensed from Unsplash

It doesn’t get bigger than this

With few designated trails or campsites, hiking through Denali is an exercise in self-sufficiency. But for those who want to get away from it all, the park’s six million acres of wild land—which makes it larger than the state of New Hampshire—will give you every opportunity to explore on your own terms. (Just make sure you’re carrying everything you need on your back).

The main tether connecting you to civilization is one ribbon of road, the 92 mile long Denali Park Road. Going off the asphalt will take you on a tour of the low-elevation taiga forest, high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America’s tallest peak, the 20,310-foot Denali. Wherever you choose to go, solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.

Hiking in Denali National Park

Savage River Alpine Trail: One of the few places in the park with established hiking trails is in the Savage River area, and most are located near the entrance. This route is four miles long and connects the Mountain Vista and Savage River Day Use Areas, serving up panoramic views, including Denali itself 60 miles away.

Triple Lakes Trail: A 9-mile loop that takes you through forests, open tundra, and past three picturesque lakes. The trail offers solitude and breathtaking views of the Alaska Range.

Polychrome Mountain Trail: A challenging off-trail hike for experienced hikers, this takes you through the alpine terrain of the Wyoming Hills and Cabin Peak where you will see few signs of people. Polychrome Mountain and its colorful slopes are the dominant feature.

From one end of the land to the other

For mountain lovers, this road trip is a hiker’s (and climber’s) dream, covering some of the most iconic great ranges the U.S. has to offer. In total, expect to drive over 4,500 miles and spend several weeks enjoying the itinerary.

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