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Nearby visitor center to help with Denali crowds


By Jacob Frank, courtesy Denali National Park
This summer, workers will start construction on a multimillion-dollar visitor center to help ease the crowds visiting Alaska’s Denali National Park. The visitor center will be built on the lesser-known Denali State Park, located just south of the national park.

“It will relieve some of the pressure Denali National Park is feeling by giving visitors the same Denali experiences they want without having to drive 100 miles more north,” said Casey Ressler, marketing and communications manager for Matanuska-Susitna Convention and Visitors Bureau. “For visitors on a tight schedule, it would allow them to have a Denali experience on a day trip from Anchorage.”

One reason the national park has received so much more attention than the state park is that Mount McKinley is located on the national park’s grounds. However, the new visitor center will offer guests views of the Alaska Range and Mount McKinley. Other visible features from the center include glacial features, beaver ponds, rocky knolls and Lake 1787.

Activities from the visitor center will appeal to a variety of physical abilities, and include nature trails, scenic viewpoints, hiking trails and mountain biking.

“The expectation is that once the center is up and fully operational with marketing, it would equal the Denali National Park visitation,” said Bill Kiger, interpretation and education manager at Alaska State Parks.

The state park officials estimate that the center will attract 230,600 more tourists per year to Denali State Park, which currently receives about 325,000 annual visitors. The first phase of the center is scheduled for completion in 2014.

For more information, read the Travel Weekly article or visit Denali State Park’s website.