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Denali State Park  

Denali State Park

Located adjacent to the southern border of Denali National Park, the 324,240-acre Denali State Park is the fourth largest state park in Alaska and almost half the size of Rhode Island. Denali State Park straddles the Parks Highway 147 miles north of Anchorage and is situated between the Talkeetna Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the west. This makes the park the transition zone from low, coastal environment to the spine of the Alaska Range. Its terrain ranges from heavily forested streams and river valleys to the alpine tundra of the Curry and Kesugi ridges, making up the 30-mile long backbone of the park.

Kesugi - a Dena'ina Indian word meaning 'the Ancient One’ - is a ridge four to six miles wide that parallels the Parks Highway. Kesugi and neighboring Curry Ridge reach heights of only 4,500 feet and lack the jagged spires, rock walls and knife-edged ridgelines that are the trademarks of Mount McKinley and the Alaska Range to the west. Instead, visitors will find gently rolling tundra at the top of the ridges much more conducive to trekking. Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America, doesn't lie in the state park but the best views of it do. Denali State Park has superb vantage points to view both Mount McKinley's north and south summits, the latter rising up 20,237 feet.

Denali State Park is home to both brown and black bears, moose and marmots. In the lower areas, visitors will encounter muskrats, beavers, possibly red foxes and porcupines, among other resident wildlife. On the east side of the park the Susitna and Chulitna rivers are home to Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout and all five species of Pacific salmon. Small numbers of lake trout occur in Byers, Spink and Lucy lakes, and rainbow trout, grayling and Dolly Varden are found in Byers Lake and Troublesome and Little Coal creeks.

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