Safety Tips in Denali National Park and Preserve

  • Warnings and Dangers
    by ozcan1
  • Look what I see... it's snowing.  June 3rd!!
    Look what I see... it's snowing. June...
    by 850prc
  • Denali Cabins, Denali National Park
    Denali Cabins, Denali National Park
    by karenincalifornia

Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Denali National Park and Preserve

  • Loss of Property in Bear Bins

    by ozcan1 Written Oct 15, 2011

    If you use the walk-in camping area, exercise extreme care in placing food, cosmetic and medicinal items (as well as all cookware) in the bear-proof bins provided. You're legally required to do so, with a large fine if you don't. These bins aren't lockable... and every item we placed in the nearest bin was stolen. We provided written feedback to the ranger, on the form provided... and wrote a detailed letter to the superintendent of Denali National Park. Months later we have received no response whatsoever, either to our suggestion that bins be lockable, with a refundable deposit; or to our claim for reimbursement, with receipts attached. This matter will be pursued, as it's a Catch22 situation: Ignore the requirement and you're fined; comply and suffer losses. A response to suggestions on the official form which included a feedback component would have been appreciated; and our more detailed letter to administration has been completely ignored. This experience was the only major loss suffered during our recent three months' travel in North America.

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    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel

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    To DEET or not to DEET

    by karenincalifornia Updated May 23, 2006

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    If head gear hair is a concern of yours, you might be tempted to forego the fashionable mosquito net head gear and slather mosquito repellent (DEET) all over your face and hands. DEET is a class D carcinogen, but that doesn't mean it is carcinogenic to humans. However, it is slightly toxic to fish and birds, and is capable of getting into the groundwater. It's controversial, bottom line. If you want more information, here is a link to a good summary of scientific testing. DEET Study

    Again, a brilliant chemist could weigh in here.

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    Haute couture

    by karenincalifornia Updated May 23, 2006

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    Denali -- and particularly the Kantishna area -- is known for its mosquitos, particularly in early summer and through July. After all, the mosquito is Alaska's state bird. Because of all the moisture in the tundra and the ponding of water all over the place, Alaska's state bird thrives here.

    Yet, it isn't all that horrible. You make sure you carry your trusty mosquito headgear and don it when you can't take those pesky bugs any longer. So then they just bite the heck out of your hands so you just put your hands in your pockets. But even that is not so bad. You might see 10 of them on your hands biting away, and you'll feel it, too, as teeny little pin pricks. However, our hands didn't get those nasty welts that we get from the liberal California mosquitos in my home town. One of our guides told us it was due to the fact that Alaskan mosquitos have far less contact with humans than mosquitos in other states. (There must be trillions of mosquitos in Alaska to every human.) Supposedly, that infrequent contact between mosquitos and humans results in mosquito saliva with weaker toxins. Perhaps a brilliant chemist could confirm this as correct or silly folklore.

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    Do not stay here

    by karenincalifornia Updated May 23, 2006

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    If you plan to stay in the backcountry, or take the bus tour, you'll need to spend the night at the mouth of the park the night before going into the Park. We had 4 nights reservations at Denali Backcountry Lodge - that place was great. The Lodge recommended that we stay the first night at their sister accommodations - Denali Cabins. There are a lot of choices at the Park entrance. Stay anywhere BUT Denali Cabins.

    For more details, see my Accommodations tips.

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    Some precautions

    by sswagner Updated Jan 4, 2005

    To research what you should be careful for in the park would go beyond the scope of this website, however I will list some of the well known things to watch out for.

    (1)Grizzlies--do not startle them. Do not get between them and their cubs. If they approach you, remain calm and do not run. Slowly wave your arms and back away. If they charge you and contact is immenent, lie down and be absolutely still.

    (2) Moose--if one of them charges you, this is the time to run.

    (3) Weather--it can change on a dime. Bring non-cotton clothing here and always be prepared for cooler weather. Rain gear is essential. In the summer, it often rains.

    (4) Food--Bring none of it into your tent. Store it in a campground locker or in that bearproof canister they give you.

    (5) Absolutely have a map and compass. Most of this will be a backcountry experience.

    (6) Be careful crossing those streams. You will probably not be able to see the bottom through that glacial silt. Have shoes or sandals for the crossing. Throw rocks in to help determine depth. Remove your pack and loose clothing and carry them. Do not underestimate the current.

    Again, this is just a partial list of some things to be aware of. There is a lot of good literature out there that can help prepare you for a visit to Denali.

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    Bear Country

    by Lilasel Updated Jan 2, 2005

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    Denali National Park is home to both black bears and grizzly bears. The bears of Denali are wild creatures, free to behave as they wish.
    For your own protection be alert at all time, in all places.

    It is illegal to approach within 0,4 km (1/4 mile) of a bear.
    Do not run if you see bear! Bears can run faster than 50 km/hr (30 mph). By my personal experience I know - back away slowly if the bear is aware of you but has not acted aggressively.
    By the way, during my 4 months in Denali I didn't hear about victims. If you know these rules, all will be Ok with you!
    Take care.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Rock Flour Runaway

    by mrclay2000 Written Aug 14, 2003

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    In the summer, Denali's rivers "run high." Snowmelt in the high country increases the outflow into channels and streams, which ultimately run into the series of mighty rivers which flow south to north on their way out of the park. Though some of the braids (i.e. channels) might be clear enough to gauge the depth, glacial silt mars such judgments in most cases. Tossing in a rock is one way to test depth. Hikers and campers are advised to cross where the braids are broadest, which occurs where water flow is weakest and often most shallow. Judging where to cross a river can literally take hours, so scout your fords appropriately depending on conditions.

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    You Might Get No Peek at the Peak

    by mrclay2000 Written Aug 11, 2003

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    Descriptions of Denali's weather and what to expect from wind and rain have already been given elsewhere. Local custom expects to see Denali on average only one day in four, or in other words there is a good chance (a great chance) that you might come all this way and not see the High One at all. If your trip extends for several days, obviously your chances improve, but be not surprised if your perspective is no better than the one depicted here -- this is a common view, with no view even more common.

    Related to:
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    Know The Terrain

    by mrclay2000 Written Aug 9, 2003

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    The picture seems to show a fairly simple low-brush country leading to the distant peaks, but be not deceived. Described as "worthless" by one bus driver, the terrain here (backcountry sections 4 & 5) is actually tussock tundra. The wiry shrubs merely disguise a soft, spongy terrain. While the bushes trip your advance, untie your boots or tug at your backpack, the tussock tundra sinks from 0-15 inches under your tread, so each step risks a twisted ankle or actual collapse on alternately hard and ultrasoft surfaces. Expect to travel about a half-mile per hour. To avoid the conflict, the headaches and the delay, be positive of all terrains for your intended hike.

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    Noise: The Proper Vanguard in the Bush

    by mrclay2000 Updated Aug 7, 2003

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    Except for cases when your hike takes you through open terrain, the reaches of Denali are often choked with alder or hidden by endless stands of spruce. Though grizzly bears in Denali tend to forage in the open, a sudden confrontation in the alder is the worst kind of wildlife encounter. For this reason, "solo hiking/camping" is not recommended by the park service. Singing and talking when traveling in a group is an easy practice that should be observed. Solo hikers ought to make plenty of noise when advancing through thick brush.

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    Bladder Control

    by zrim Written Jan 18, 2003

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    I think we stopped four times at locations that had actual facilities. Unless you are comfortable doing your business on the tundra, you need to take advantage of the opportunity.

    This is probably the most scenic location where I have seen port-o-potties.

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    Fear of Heights

    by zrim Written Jan 18, 2003

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    If you have a fear of heights, better get over it. There are some parts along the road where you are 5000 feet over the valley below and the guardrail, assuming there is one, isn't going to be of much help if the bus veers off the side of the road. Thankfully 10 mph is about as fast as the bus goes over those routes.

    This picture taken from the edge of the road looks straight down about 2000-3000 feet. We were all looking at a bear crashing through the tundra and the stopping for a drink at the river. The bear was barely visible without binoculars.

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Denali National Park and Preserve Warnings and Dangers

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