Skip to main content
Guide to 5 National Parks in Alaska
1 of 1
  • States:

Alaska has more national parks than all the U.S. states on the Eastern Seaboard combined.

You’ve heard of Denali, and maybe Glacier Bay. But the rest are unheralded, underrated, and—as a result—free of crowds.

Denali National Park

Claim to fame: The tallest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley is more commonly known as Denali. Around the park, it’s generally referred to simply as “the mountain”—as in, “Can you see the mountain today?” (Hint: You probably can’t.)

Good to know: Denali is closed to cars. Park shuttles and tour buses rattle up and down the park’s lone road, and visitors with limited time can see a surprising amount of scenery and wildlife on a one-day ride out and back. But a far better option is to leave the road and hit the backcountry on foot.

Apart from a few short walks near the park entrance, Denali doesn’t bother with designated hiking trails; instead, visitors are encouraged to (respectfully) wander and camp wherever they please. Bring your bear barrel and a good quality terrain map before venturing into the wild.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park
View more

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Claim to fame: Sheer size. At 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest park in the U.S. system. Together with three adjoining parks—Southeast Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, British Columbia’s Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park and Yukon’s Kluane National Park—it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Good to know: Wrangell-St. Elias is a rarity in the Alaskan NPS—a park you can drive right into. A rough road leads from Chitina, just outside park boundaries, into the tiny tourism town of McCarthy and its neighboring ghost town, Kennicott.

A licensed operator runs guided glacier hikes and ice climbing excursions out of Kennicott, as well as really excellent tours of the historic Kennicott copper mill, a 13-s