Eielson Visitors Center
Open daily 9 a.m.–7 p.m. June–mid-September, Eielson Visitors Center is four hours and 66 miles from the Denali National Park entrance. The view from here—weather cooperating—is unforgettable. Even if you can only see the bottom 12,000–14,000 feet, have a naturalist or your driver point to where the top of Mt. McKinley is, and visualize it in your mind’s eye. Also, things change fast around here, so keep an eye out for the peak popping out of the clouds as a surprise just for you.
A spectacular new visitors center opened at Eielson in 2008, featuring exhibits, tall windows facing McKinley, a gift shop, an outdoor deck, 24-hour bathrooms, and space to enjoy your lunch or relax. No food is available at Eielson. Naturalists lead 45-minute walks daily at 1 p.m. The excellent backpacking zones in this area are usually the first to fill up.
To Wonder Lake
Beyond Eielson, the road comes within 25 miles of the mountain, passing Muldrow Glacier, which is covered by a thick black layer of glacial till and vegetation. From Wonder Lake, the Wickersham Wall rises magnificently above the intervening plains, with the whole Alaska Range stretching out on each side.
In addition, the reflection from the lake doubles your pleasure and doubles your fun, from which even the mosquitoes here, some of the most savage, bloodthirsty, insatiable beasts of the realm, cannot detract.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition