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Mount McKinley, photograph, ca. 1915

Athabaskan Indians, the area’s original inhabitants, called this snow-capped peak Denali, “the tall one.” At 20,310 feet above sea level, it is the highest point in North America. In 1897 a gold prospector named it after President-elect William McKinley, but the mountain was renamed Denali by an executive order in 2015.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Mount McKinley, photograph, ca. 1915

Preserving Alaskan Wilderness

Since the 1870s, Congress has created more than 400 national parks to conserve wild lands, promote recreation, and celebrate the nation’s heritage. To oversee these areas, Congress established the National Park Service in 1916. Persuaded by naturalist Charles Sheldon and other conservationists, Congress established Mount McKinley National Park in Alaska in 1917 to protect North America’s highest mountain. The Alaskan National Lands Conservation Act of 1980 vastly expanded the protected area to six million acres and renamed it Denali National Park.

Is it too much to expect this unrivaled work of nature will take its place among the important assets, not only of Alaska but of the nation as a whole?

Robert Sterling Yard, “Mount McKinley National Park: An Economic Asset,” Establishment of Mount McKinley National Park . . . , 1916