2. Alaska Denali
This year marks the centenary of Denali National Park and Preserve, in Southcentral Alaska. Covering six million acres of arctic forest and high alpine tundra, it’s the largest national park in the country, roughly the size of Vermont. To be here is to experience America’s last true frontier, to hear its original heartbeat, the solitude and ferocity of the real wilderness.
In the centre of the park is Denali mountain, its name meaning ‘the great one’ in native Koyukon Athabascan. And so it is. Denali is 20,310ft tall, the highest peak in North America, with a vertical rise of 18,000ft — taller than Mount Everest’s by a third and the largest of any mountain that’s entirely above sea level.
But for all its superlatives, it’s the wildlife that most people come here for. In a single day, it’s possible to see all of Alaska’s Big Five: grizzlies, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall sheep. But get off the path too: unlike other national parks, the backcountry of Denali has no trails or campsites; this is a true wilderness, the adventure is as big as your imagination can make it.