Monday, December 7, 2009


When I first found this postcard, it made me think, "When did they change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali?", as this postcard has no reference to the name Denali and was mailed in 1996. I thought this mountain, at least in recent memory, was called "Denali".

Turns out it was never changed. The mountain is officially named Mt. McKinley, although it is also known as Denali, "The Great One." As the highest mountain peak in North America, it stands at a height of approximately 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level. From Wikipedia, "Mount McKinley has a larger bulk and rise than Mount Everest, although the summit of Everest is higher measured from sea level 29,029 feet (8,800 m). Everest's base sits on the Tibetan Plateau at about 17,000 feet (5,200 m), giving it a real vertical rise of a little more than 12,000 feet (3,700 m). The base of Mount McKinley is roughly a 2,000-foot (610 meter) elevation, giving it an actual rise of 18,000 feet (5,500 m)."

The whole name thing is controversial. Alaskans refer to the mountain as "Denali", from the Koyukon language, and in 1975 requested that the US Board on Geographic Names (who knew there was such an organization?) make the name "Denali" official. A congressman from a district in Ohio, where McKinley (the president for whom the mountain was named) was from, has continuously fought efforts to do so, using all sorts of political maneuvering, and the official name remains Mt. McKinley to this day. The "compromise" was to name the national park Denali, with Mt. McKinley as its centerpiece. Phew. If you're interested, you can find more info here.

1 comment:

  1. I've backpacked in Denali National Park -- and it is amazing!! The mountain truly is the great one... if you're lucky enough for the cloud cover to lift long enough to see it.

    Ironically, Denali (the park) is the same size as the state of Ohio. It takes ten hours to ride across the park and back on a bus.