At first glance, Alaska's Denali National Park is colossal. It’s about the size of Vermont—or half the size of Switzerland. The park’s main attraction, Mount McKinley, is the tallest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. Even the wild animals that roam the grounds are oversize: hulking grizzly bears, towering moose, imposing caribou.
But one of Denali’s most irresistible attractions is tiny. Each year, staff breed a litter of puppies to replace a group of retiring sled dogs. While a fair number of people know that you can visit the wriggly little balls of fur at the park kennels, few know that you can also see them virtually anywhere via Denali’s Puppycam, a live stream that captures the puppies in action for the first three months of their lives.
Our national parks are celebrated for their majestic features, and rightly so. Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, Volcanoes National Park’s awe-inspiring lava flow, Redwood National Park’s soaring trees—all are wildly impressive. But some of the most interesting details about the parks aren’t the ones that make it into the guidebooks and the tours.
We set out to uncover some of the lesser-known facts about the parks, interviewing park rangers, researching weather patterns, and talking to birding fanatics.
Read on to learn what secrets and factoids we uncovered, including a secluded spot in the most popular national park, where to go to be one of the first people in America to see the sun rise, and what actually poses the biggest risk to visitors. Oh, yes, and the URL for that Puppycam.