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The Mountain Vista Loop is one of the best spots to catch views of Denali on a clear day.
This short, easy circuit traverses a wide gravel path leaving from a large parking lot.
The trail is mostly flat and entirely smooth, making it accessible for everyone visiting the national park.
The parking lot can also be accessed via the shuttle bus system, making it very convenient no matter how you're traveling to Denali. Rising to a staggering height of 20,310 feet above sea level (6,190m), Denali reigns as the tallest peak on the North American continent.
The incredible rise of this monolith is due to the grind of the Pacific and North American continental plates, which still cause Denali to rise at the rate of 1 millimeter per year. While other parts of Alaska are mountainous, nothing else even comes close to Denali.
Indeed, Denali is still massive and highly prominent even when compared to the famed Everest.
Denali rises from a sloping plain of between 1,000 and 3,000 feet for a total base-to-peak height of ~19,000 feet.
In contrast, Everest rises from a plain of between 13,800 feet and 17,100 feet, for a total base-to-peak height of ~15,300 feet.
This makes Denali appear about 4,000 feet TALLER than Everest! On this short hike measuring less than a mile in length, you'll walk out of the trees onto the top of a small rise overlooking a wide valley below.
And in the distance, rising above the closer mountain range, you'll see the snow-covered monolith of Denali. That is...
if you're lucky.
It's said that Denali is shrouded in clouds 7 out of 10 days, meaning that only about 30% of the people that visit Denali National Park ever even see the peak.
Gaining clear views of the peak takes patience, flexibility in your schedule, and a good dose of luck.
In order to increase your chances of seeing the mountain, plan for a long stay in Denali, or try to visit the national park both on your drive up to Fairbanks and on your return trip back down.
Scheduling two chances to see the mountain will dramatically increase your odds of success.