To non-climbers, the idea of visiting a massive mountain of rock – where temperatures rarely climb above freezing – may be difficult fathom, particularly when you compare it to sipping mai tais on a sandy beach. What they may not realize is that no amount of fruity cocktails or tropical sun can compare to the breathtaking scenery of Alaska, especially its Denali National Park and Preserve. With panoramic views of majestic snow and glacier-capped mountains, Denali is the crown jewel of earth's natural landscapes, where adventure lies around every corner.
Reaching the summit of Mount McKinley is a dream for many climbers. At 20,320 feet (6,194 meters), it is the highest peak in North America, offers world-class mountaineering for experienced climbers [source: Encyclopedia Britannica]. But be warned that this is no hillside stroll – climbing the rugged, glacier-topped peaks of Mount McKinley requires expertise in managing the mental and physical stresses of high altitude climbing and exploration. Mount McKinley is extremely challenging, especially considering it has more vertical relief – 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) – than any mountain on the planet [source: National Geographic].
But climbing Mount McKinley is only the start of any Alaskan adventure worth its salt. Trips to the "Last Frontier" invariably include river rafting, eco-tours, sledding, trekking, and some of the best hiking in the world [source: Anchorage Daily News]. You should also consider doing a flying trip around Mount McKinley, either before or after (or both) you've conquered it.