How Braided Rivers Show Passing Time in Denali National Park

Denali National Park is home to a number of braided rivers, including McKinley River, Toklat River and Teklanika river. These river beds feature meandering streams that curve and bend, leaving interweaved tracks behind in the sediment. These tracks can last for years and years until they are washed away from a new flow of water. In many ways, the braided river beds are a natural representation of passing time in Denali, with rocks and sand showing off tracks made from many years of flowing water.

Some of the river beds in the park stretch over a mile wide, including the McKinley river, which is accessible from a long hike near Kantishna Roadhouse. What might not be immediately obvious, however, is that these braided river beds like McKinley and Teklanika are never filled with water from bank to bank. The actual streams are small in comparison to the river bed. Even when Denali experienced some of its most extreme rains in 2014, these rivers beds were never completely full.

There are a variety of factors that make braided rivers common in the park, including the abundance of loose sediment, erodible banks, and variations in water flow. In addition, braided rivers are often found in areas where young, rapidly eroding mountains are present. These natural characteristics make it more likely for flowing water to quickly change direction and carve out new paths in the sediment.

These river banks serve as salvation for wildlife that use the fresh water for sustenance and the nearby plants and vegetation as a source of food. It’s common to see Moose, Caribou, and Bears wandering on the river beds in search of their next meal.

2 thoughts on “How Braided Rivers Show Passing Time in Denali National Park”

    1. Kantishna Roadhouse

      Unfortunately we do not offer horseback riding, as we are in a very remote part of the park and do not have the facilities to take care of horses at our location.

      We will start accepting new bookings for 2021 on October 1st. Kantishna Air Taxi does partner with us for flightseeing tours and they are able to arrange a one-way trip to our lodge from the front of the park.

      Feel free to contacts us if you have additional questions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top

August 24, 2021 National Park Service Announcement
Denali Park Road Closed To All Traffic beyond Mile 42

Due to the unsafe conditions posed by landslide activity the Denali Park Road is closed. The Kantishna Roadhouse is closed for the season. The Kantishna Wilderness Tours bus tour is operating on very limited capacity for tours to Mile 42 through Sept 12.

The Kantishna Roadhouse is an “inholder” business and we must comply with the National Park Service. We are dismayed and saddened that we cannot keep our business open for the remainder of the 2021 season. And, as you can see, we have no choice but to cancel all overnight reservations beginning August 24th and through the end of the season. We will be sending you a cancellation notice and crediting you with a full refund.

Thank you for your understanding. I fully understand that you wanted to be at the Kantishna Roadhouse, rather than reading this and making other plans.

Best Regards,
Marie Monroe, General Manager