Where Alaska - - The Guide -

Mt. McKin­ley, Yukon River, Hot Springs

The In­te­rior of Alaska is full of in­trigu­ing nat­u­ral won­ders people travel from all around the world to ex­pe­ri­ence. It con­tains De­nali Park and Pre­serve, along with Mount McKin­ley, aka De­nali, North Amer­ica’s high­est peak. The In­te­rior also has mag­i­cal dis­plays of the North­ern Lights, bub­bling min­eral wa­ters at Man­ley, Cir­cle and Chena hot springs, and the mighty Yukon, Alaska’s long­est and one of its most fa­mous rivers.

IN­TE­RIOR ALASKA In­te­rior Alaska is lo­cated in the mid­dle of the state and is made up of wide open val­leys, prom­i­nent rivers like the Tanana and Chena and sev­eral moun­tain ranges in­clud­ing the Alaska Range, home to Mt. McKin­ley.

Alaska’s In­te­rior is home to the state’s sec­ond- largest city, Fair­banks, and North Pole, a whim­si­cal place that cel­e­brates the con­cept of Christ­mas all year long. There are also four mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions in the re­gion: Fort Wain­wright in Fair­banks, Eiel­son Air Force Base near North Pole, the Na­tional Guard’s Clear radar sta­tion at An­der­son and Fort Greely near Delta Junc­tion. The mil­i­tary has a ma­jor im­pact on the re­gion’s econ­omy, along with the govern­ment, min­ing, tourism and the ed­u­ca­tion and health care sec­tors.

Res­i­dents of the In­te­rior live with weather ex­tremes. The area’s con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate cre­ates some of the warm­est and cold­est weather in the state. Sum­mer­time in the In­te­rior brings long, some­times toasty days. Tem­per­a­tures climb to 80 de­grees Fahren­heit—and, in­fre­quently, to the 90s. On sum­mer sol­stice, the sun stays above the hori­zon for nearly 22 hours a day in Fair­banks. FAIR­BANKS Fair­banks is the largest city and hub of the In­te­rior. It’s also the ge­o­graphic heart of the re­gion, and is called the “Golden Heart City.”

Named in honor of Sen. Charles W. Fair­banks of In­di­ana, Fair­banks was in­cor­po­rated in 1903. Fair­banks’ past, present and fu­ture are closely linked to gold. Prospec­tor Felix Pe­dro dis­cov­ered gold in the nearby hills in 1902, and gold min­ing and dis­cov­er­ies con­tinue to­day. Jew­elry stores carry dis­tinc­tive gold nugget jew­elry, made from lo­cally mined gold.

With 30,547 res­i­dents, Fair­banks sits about 125 miles south of the Arc­tic Cir­cle and 360 miles north of Anchorage. Get­ting into and out of the city is easy, thanks to the Ge­orge Parks, Richard­son, Steese and El­liott high­ways. A newly ren­o­vated air­port and pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice help make Fair­banks one of Alaska’s most pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions.

Fair­banks boasts an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed re­search univer­sity, mu­se­ums like the Univer­sity of Alaska Mu­seum of the North and the Foun­tain­head Auto Mu­seum, and events such as the an­nual Ice Alaska ice carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion, the Yukon Quest Dog Sled Race (on al­ter­nat­ing years with White­horse) and the World Eskimo In­dian Olympics. DE­NALI NA­TIONAL PARK AND PRE­SERVE De­nali Na­tional Park and Pre­serve is one of the largest na­tional parks in the U. S., at about 6 mil­lion acres. Es­tab­lished in 1917, the park re­ceives an aver­age of 400,000 vis­i­tors an­nu­ally.

De­nali Na­tional Park is no­table for the con­ti­nent’s high­est peak, Mt. McKin­ley/De­nali (20,320 feet), beau­ti­ful scenery and plen­ti­ful wildlife that in­cludes bears, moose, sheep, cari­bou and wolves. The Parks High­way and Alaska Rail­road al­low easy ac­cess to the park.

In­side the park, the road­way ex­tends 92 miles but only the first 15 miles are paved and open for travel by pri­vate ve­hi­cles. Be­yond Mile 15, vis­i­tors use shut­tle buses (hop- on, hop- off), tour bus, bi­cy­cle or walk. With a back­coun­try per­mit, you may get off and camp wher­ever you like, or, re­serve ahead and use the camp­grounds in­side the park.

The park is open from May–Sept. Camp­grounds and ser­vices are also at the park en­trance.

North Amer­ica’s tallest peak as seen from the Eiel­son

Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in De­nali Na­tional Park and Pre­serve.

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