Denali means “the high one” in the Indigenous Athabascan language. It’s also often referred to simply as “the mountain.” At 20,308 feet — and rising — it stands alone as the highest peak on the continent, emerging uniquely above the 600-mile Alaskan Range. Spruce and quaking aspen pop out of the marshy taiga, mountain avens, heath, and willow shrubs underfoot as far as the eye can see.

And the eye can see far. The “Yellowstone of Alaska” is a misnomer; here, there is not a single boardwalk, not a single overcrowded parking lot, not a single fancy readerboard-lined trail. Denali National Park is three times the size of Yellowstone, and standing over Polychrome Pass — miles of wilderness so fragile the heat of your gaze seems dangerous — the immensity will strike you. Places like this do not exist in the Lower 48.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself here, counting Dall sheep from a viewpoint or counting steps into the backcountry, here’s what to do.