Denali State Park
Adjacent to Denali National Park, this 325,000 acre wildland offers a hub of recreational opportunities from camping and canoeing to wilderness exploration and some of the most stunning views of Denali from the ridgeline or from Byers Lake.
Not to be confused with Denali National Park and Preserve, the state park is located entirely in the Mat-Su Borough and is almost one-half the size of Rhode Island. Established in 1970, the park is situated between the Talkeetna Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the west, the landscape varies from meandering lowland streams to alpine tundra. Dominating this diverse terrain are Curry and Kesugi Ridges, a 35 mile-long north/south alpine ridge, the backbone of the eastern half of the park. Byers Lake is also a paddler's paradise, as kayakers and canoeists flock to the area. Public-use cabins are also popular for residents and visitors alike.
Camping in Denali State Park is possible at K'esugi Ken Campground, located at mile 135.4 on the Parks Highway. This gem features a ranger station, 32 RV campsites, 10 walk-in campsites, a group campsite, an interpretive center and a new hiking trail to alpine areas. Denali State Park cabins are also available at Kesugi Ken. The campground is equipped with electric hookups, bear-resistant food containers, a hand pump water well and picnic tables. The best southern views of the Alaska Range are from this new campground. Denali State Park hotels include the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.
Visit the Alaska State Parks for more information on hiking trails, facilities and a map of the state park.
Denali has different "experiences" depending on where you find yourself. The South Denali area - including Talkeetna, Trapper Creek and Denali State Park - give visitors more of a "scenic" Denali experience, as the views of the Alaska Range are quite spectacular. The many activities in this region highlight that scenic beauty. As you travel north to Denali National Park and Preserve, it becomes more of a "wildlife" experience, as the viewshed diminishes but your chances of seeing moose, caribou, bear, fox and other animals increases significantly. The best advice is to take in both experiences, as you won't be disappointed.
Denali National Park campgrounds and RV parks are available further north on the Parks Highway, close to the national park's entrance.