-- Visitors to Denali National Park next summer will see the
results of a major facelift at the parks entrance.
Travelers on a
late-summer cruise or those braving the winter elements this year
already can see the first phase of the face-lift: the Murie Science
and Learning Center will become the parks temporary visitor center
The new visitor
complex should be finished by midsummer 2005, a parks
representative said. Other areas in the facility will include a
bookstore, a gift shop and a food court -- something the park hasnt
had yet, she said.
visitor center just isnt big enough for all the activities the park
would like to host, the parks representative said.
What we currently
have is a place where you get your bus tickets and wilderness
permits, she said. But there was no space for exhibits, displays or
anything to bring people to a higher understanding of what this
place is all about.
And this place is
all about a bunch of different things. Denali includes the tallest
mountain in the U.S., Mount McKinley; a subarctic ecosystem; and
abundant wildlife, including bears, caribou, moose, wolves, Dall
sheep and various bird species.
Denali is so big
that the bus tour around the park, which costs $41.70 for an adult
ticket and includes a snack and hot drinks, only scratches the
operate on a limited basis or are closed because of nearby wolf
activity. Bear-resistant food containers are available for free
with permits to hike and camp in the parks back country.
The new visitor
center will have space for an auditorium for ranger talks and for
exhibits about the park.
And it will be
directly across from the Denali railroad depot, where thousands of
visitors and cruise-ship passengers annually arrive and meet the
buses that take them to area lodges and hotels.
representative said the location will give guests a chance to spend
time in the visitor center or grab a bite to eat at the new food
court before heading to their hotels.
Learning Center will serve as the welcome center this fall, but it
definitely wont see much foot traffic: The park all but shuts down
Riley Creek, stays open all winter, but the park turns off the
water -- meaning that winter camping options are for only the
hardiest of travelers.
Still, the Murie
center will be a place to check out in the summer because it will
act as a home base and learning center for the Denali
offers several multi-day field seminars and teacher-training
courses, but the center also will hold daily, five-hour excursions
to observe the wolves of Denali.
They talk about
wolf research, and how we do it. They also offer field trips that
are science-based -- as opposed to a ranger walk -- that are more
in-depth, the parks representative said.
improvements to the park entrance are finished, look for the park
to replace the Eielson Visitor Center at mile marker 66, which is
perched on the tundra slopes and offers excellent views of Mount
McKinley on clear days.
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].