One of the most famous mountains in North America is Mount McKinley. It’s elevation of 20,320 feet is the highest on the entire continent. The native American name for the mountain is Denali, meaning “the high one,” a name used to label the National Park that surrounds it. The first Europeans sighted the mountain in 1794 and left it unnamed until a man searching for gold in 1889 labeled the mountain Densmore’s Peak, after himself. By most accounts, the present name of the peak was of political origin, stemming from an explorer from New Hampshire who wrote to a newspaper naming the mountain after Republican presidential candidate William McKinley. That name stuck even though supporters of McKinley’s opponent, Democrat William Jennings Bryan, launched an unsuccessful effort to rename the mountain after him.
Not much in the way of organized skiing takes place at Mount McKinley. There was a time when a ski area near Mount McKinley operated on the south slopes of nearby Mount Healy. That area is now being converted for use for a Denali visitor center. Other than that, there have been organized ski expeditions on the mountain, but most activity at Mount McKinley centers around climbing.
Mount McKinley, Alaska
People staying in the Mount McKinley / Denali area have two choices: the hotels and resorts near the park entrance and inside the park in the Kantishna area. Those who are interested in a more isolated experience that emphasizes exploring the park and are willing to pay for the more expensive accommodations should consider one of the several Kantishna lodges, including Camp Denali and North Face Lodge. The majority of visitors, however, opt for one of the seven resort locations at the park’s entrance where a concentration of commerce allows for more connection with civilization and a more casual Denali experience.