Colours of Denali National Park

Trying to decide what to do when on an extended trip in a big place can be really difficult. Alaska is huge, and we knew we were visiting during a change of seasons – summer would be ending, fall would be starting and even winter may show its face during our visit. In the end we decided to start in Fairbanks and work our way south as it got colder, but we wanted to stay in Denali National Park long enough to catch some of the seasonal colour change. And boy was it worth it!

If you search for photos of Denali National Park some of the best will be taken during fall, when the tundra is undergoing a short colourful eruption before it all turns brown and then gets covered with snow.

Our First Views of Denali National Park

When we first arrived and took the camper bus into the heart of the park we could see the colours starting, but overall most of the vegetation we saw was green.

Green colours in Denali National Park

We stayed for three nights at Wonder Lake campground where we had a mixture of wonderful sunshine on one day, and sporadic rain on others. We photographed Mount McKinley when we could.

Mount McKinley in Denali National Park

And when it was hidden behind rain and cloud we walked the tundra, picked blueberries and I busied myself with some macro photographs of all the berries, flowers and water drops I could find on the landscape.

Macro berries in Denali National Park (Cranberries)

Macro berries in Denali National Park (Crowberries)

Macro berries in Denali National Park (blackberry)

A Few Days Later the Colours Change

Merely three days later when we were taking the bus back in the direction of the entrance to stay at the Igloo Creek Campsite we were blown away with how much the colours had changed. What was green a few days ago was now in places a deep maroon red.

Denali National Park red tundra

Denali National Park red and yellow

Snow in August?

We had rain, lots of rain, so much rain in fact that we spent one whole day huddled up in the tent only dashing out occasionally for bathroom breaks or to cook food. We woke up one morning with the top of the tent frozen solid, but not wanting to spend another day huddled up for warmth in the tent we decided to catch the bus again back into the depths of the park to see if we could spot some wildlife from the comfort of the bus. On the way it started snowing and we got to see a different Denali, a white foggy Denali National Park.

Denali National Park in snow

Later it did clear up and we got some photos of colourful mountainsides with snow dusted peaks.

Denali National Park dusted with snow

Denali National Park so colourful

In ten days of camping in Denali National Park we felt like we saw almost all the colours this amazing park had to offer. Although it is colder when you visit at the end of August / beginning of September, if you catch the colour change it really is quite magical.

Denali National Park tundra in full colour

When and where have you been where you’ve found yourself amazed by the natural colours?


  1. OK, you’ve convinced me, I really really want to go to Denali now. Funnily enough some good friends of ours from sailing days are doing that right now so I’m looking forward to some more photos from them! Stunning scenery for sure, thanks for sharing your photos.
    xo Jen

    • Thanks for visiting Jennie! Hopefully your friends managed to see the colours and wildlife too, and the weather was nice. Looking forward to seeing you guys when we’re back in NZ.

  2. Wow, very nice colorful pictures, It would be a nice place to visit. Never heard of this place but it is beautiful.

  3. Isn’t it amazing up here in the fall! I’m just south of where you are in Wasilla. Fall is beautiful in Alaska but it only last a few weeks. Everything dies, then a big windstorm blows through and all of the leaves fall.. ending fall.

    Can’t believe it snowed 2 days ago. The earliest I have ever seen it snow..

    • Hey Derek, thanks for visiting. Yes we certainly noticed that fall was fleeting… As we drove north or south, or even in the same place within the space of a few days everything would change. Beautiful colours would become bare trees.

      • I think this is the fastest fall I have experienced. Where I live all of the colors are gone.. its all bare trees and snow capped mountains.. but its still beautiful. Glad you enjoyed your stay in Alaska!

  4. I wish I could get such red berries at my place , in Kodaikanal, India.

  5. The photos of the berries are stunning.

    • Thank you for visiting Debra and glad you like the berry photos. They were taken with a macro lens which I really love using, you can explore all the little details.

  6. These images you have captured are amazing, everything looks so clear and I especially like the photos of the Park, I have always wanted to visit Alaska. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and hopefully you have many more adventures to go on.