Happy 102, Denali National Park!
It was February 26, 1917, when Mt. McKinley National Park was officially designated, with the primary goal of protecting Dall sheep and sheep habitat. But you’ve always been Denali to us.
The truth is that President McKinley had never been to Alaska when a prospector dubbed the tallest peak in North America, Mt. McKinley (20,310 feet), in 1896. The story goes that the prospector, William Dickey, was a big pundit for the gold rush and wanted to give the president a shoutout for his support of the gold standard.
The hubris runs deep, considering the mountain, Denali, already had a name bestowed on it from the one of indigenous Athabascan tribes. Technically, several indigenous tribes had their own names for the massive peak, but Denali was arguably the most widely used.
But as we all know, hubris is slow to die. In 2015, both the mountain and the park were officially renamed Denali to honor the indigenous heritage and historically accurate name.
Of course, the park is so much more than a name.
With the appeal of grizzly bears, wolf packs, and endless fields of glacially-formed tundra, this remote park welcomes 600,000 visitors each year. Even with nearly pure wilderness in every direction, the ultimate sight for every visitor is still to see Denali break free from the clouds.