People and the Land
The rugged terrain did not pose a barrier to these mobile people who actively traded via mountain passes and over glacier ice. The remains of villages, fish camps and trails attest to their presence when 20th-century explorers, trappers and miners first came into the area. Their descendents live throughout the Alaska Interior and continue to hold a deep abiding connection to the land.
Perhaps the greatest influx of people, until recent park visitation, occurred during the early 1900s gold rush to the Kantishna Hills. By early summer of 1905, prospectors Joe Quigley and Jack Horn had found gold in paying quantities in Glacier Creek. Several thousand prospectors flocked to the area during that summer, but by fall, the easily accessible gold deposits were quickly mined and the population dwindled to about 50 people.
Mountaineers have made their mark on Denali’s history, as have wilderness explorers and artists. Today over 400,000 people visit Denali every year, mostly during the summer months, each seeking a way to connect with the landscape and gain insights into our wilderness heritage.