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Take This Hammer

When Nature made Mt. McKinley, it also made coal deposits in nearby Healy, as well as a mineral-rich region along the Alaska Range.

Although many see Denali National Park solely as a “pristine” environment, this entire area has a rough-and-ready history that is tied to the miners who first explored it.

Healy is still a coal-mining town, and the railroad hauls its coal to the port of Seward. It has a number of hotels within easy reach of the park.

Healy Chamber Visitor Center

There’s plenty to do in the Denali area. Local businesses in Cantwell, Denali Park, Healy and Nenana offer a wide variety of goods and services for the traveler.

These range from lodging and campgrounds to fine restaurants, box lunches, raft trips, flightseeing, horseback riding – even golf.

The Healy Lions Club publishes a map showing the locations of businesses between Cantwell and Nenana.

The Healy Chamber’s visitor center is on the Spur Road. Turn at the Totem Inn.

Coal History in Healy

Healy is on the Parks Highway near Denali Park.

Much of the town is strung along a 2.5 mile long spur road, and its economy is centered around the Usibelli Coal Mine. The mine was begun in 1918, and is now Alaska’s largest, digging 800,000 tons of coal a year. It provides coal to Golden Valley Electric, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, and to South Korea.

Coal is railed down to Seward and shipped out from there.

A River Runs Through It

The swift waters of the Nenana River emerge from the canyons near Denali National Park and flow north. They join the Tanana River at the town of Nenana.

The Tanana River is linked to the fabled Yukon River, which was a major transportation route during the Gold Rush and which still links the many Native villages between the ocean and Canada.

+ Activities + Things to Get
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat

healy alaska


Denali ATV
Denali Jeep Excursions
Denali Zipline

Totem Inn
White Moose Lodge

Totem Inn
49th State Brewing Co.

+ Map: Healy
+ Map of Bearfoot Campgrounds


Pop: 1,012
249 miles from Anchorage
12 miles north of Denali National Park

A year-round town near Denali Park. Coal-mining center with a school, stores, clinic and other everyday services. Nice accommodations & good places to eat.


The first guide books to Alaska weren’t written for tourists, but for would-be gold miners, headed for the territory.

In 1898, there was a growing urban population in America. Many people ate out often, used canned goods, shopped through Sears catalogs, and lived a relatively modern life.

Most of the men who came north didn’t know much about living and traveling in the wilderness. So they scoured newspapers and guide books for things to buy – like “350 lbs. of flour; 150 lbs. of bacon; 100 lbs. of beans.”

They dutifully lugged their foods across the countryside, and struggled to turn dry beans into a quick supper in camp at the end of a hard day.

It’s no surprise that miners who opened makeshift roadhouses and served hot meals were the ones who made money.

Greater Healy-Denali Chamber of Commerce
Healy activities and business information.

Usibelli Coal Mine
The official website for the Usibelli Coal Mine.

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