Seek and Find Denali’s Hidden Treasures
Visiting Alaska can take your breath away. Visitors to our great state often see wildlife and beautiful plants unseen anywhere else. Within Alaska, Denali National Park is one of the most popular destinations for people who want to see wild animals in their natural habitats.
To help you know what to look for, we’ve created two printable pages of cool and unusual plants and animals that live in Denali. Bookmark this page and view it on your tablet, or simply print it out for a guide to Denali’s natural treasures.
We’ve also included more fun facts about our favorite animals below the pages. Scroll down for some little-known truths about Denali wildlife!
Want more Denali wildlife facts? Check out the inside scoop on these animals:
A moose’s legs are so long that even an adult man can be shorter than a moose’s shoulder! Moose put these long legs to use by wading in water and then dipping their heads beneath the surface to munch on grass below. The little bit of skin that hangs beneath their chins is known as a “bell.”
Denali has its own herd of caribou numbering over 10,000. Scout for them north of the Alaska range and east of the Foraker River. Caribou are a light brown color normally, but in the snowy winters their coats change to a light gray or almost white color. This helps them blend in and avoid predators. Catch them in the fall and the males will be clashing their horns together in order to win the favor of the female caribou. Don’t worry! They will be friends again in no time.
Male sheep are known as “rams” and females as “ewes.” The males wear large horns curled around their ears, which is how you can tell them apart. To settle scores, the male Dall sheep butt their heads together with a dramatic “crack!” Counting the rings on a sheep’s horns can help tell its age – often they live to be over 10 years old.
Wolves travel and create dens in packs where the alpha male and female lead the group and generally get to boss the other wolves around. When the alpha female gives birth to a litter of pups, the other wolves pitch in to guard the puppies and keep the pack running smoothly. Wolves also hunt in groups, and do not take kindly to outside packs treading too closely to their territory. However, they generally keep their distance from humans.
Grizzlies tend to travel alone unless a female griz is traveling with her cubs in tow. Although they are predators, grizzly bears are omnivorous, which means that whether it’s bugs, berries, fish, or carcass, it’s fair game.
These aggressive predators and scavengers range alone over vast territories. Wolverines are very territorial and adapted to living in inhospitable northern wildernesses – they can rip even frozen meat apart with their sharp teeth. Steer clear!
Spot red foxes all over Denali National Park – they range just about everywhere. Although they are usually red, sometimes their coats are a mix of silver or black. All red foxes share a white-tipped tail. Foxes hunt small animals such as mice all year-round. Their sense of hearing is so strong that they can crouch over the snow, listening, and pounce as soon as they hear an unlucky rodent moving under the snow beneath.
The hoary marmot is a chubby rodent that lives in high alpine areas. As with the pika, you’ll often hear them chattering from their dens as you hike past. Marmots live in little neighborhood colonies formed around parent pairs and their brood. Since they hibernate during the winters, marmots are very busy during the summer gulping down as many plants as they can.
The busy beaver is protected from the cold waters of Denali by its thick blubber and water repellent fir. When angered, beavers slap their large, flat tails on the water as a warning sign. If you hear it: back off!
Willow, rock, and white-tailed ptarmigans all make their homes in Denali National Park. During the winter, all three species change colors in order to blend in with the snow. One species or another can be seen almost everywhere in the Park, and in the spring, their cackles and chuckles can be heard for miles.
Let us know which animals you found in the comments below!
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