Closing out the 2012 versions of the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters® Program is the 2012 Denali National Park Quarter. Accordingly, it is also the fifteenth strike of the eleven year 56-coin program that kicked off in 2010. The quarter dollar for the state of Alaska began down the path of circulating on November 5, 2012.
When released, the coins entered circulation through the Federal Reserve Banking system. Additional products featuring circulation quality quarters were made available directly from the United States Mint via 100-coin bags and rolls — issued with coin collectors in mind.
Before a design was selected for the reverse of the 2012 Denali National Park Quarter, five candidates were created by United States Mint artists. These were submitted to several entities, including the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), who are tasked in reviewing all American coinage and medal designs. Eventually, all of the design candidates for the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters were given to the Secretary Treasury who made the final selections.
Designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Jim Licaretz, the Denali National Park Quarter reverse depicts a Dall sheep with Mount McKinley rising in the background. Included inscriptions are DENALI, ALASKA, 2012 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
All obverse sides of America the Beautiful Quarters feature a restored image of John Flanagan’s 1932 portrait of George Washington. Inscriptions on the obverse include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and QUARTER DOLLAR.
Additional 2012 America the Beautiful Quarter releases include:
- El Yunque National Forest Quarter
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarter
- Acadia National Park Quarter
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter
The United States Mint also issues a .999 fine silver five ounce version of the quarter featuring identical designs. These include the investment-grade Denali America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coin and the numismatic or collector Denali America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin.
Denali National Park in Alaska
Denali is located in the interior of Alaska and literally means "the high one." This is because the park contains the 20,320 foot Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. Together with a preserve of the same name, over 9,492 square miles are under the protections of the federal government.
Visitors to the park are treated to some of the most breath-taking scenery and wildlife one can experience. This is not without its own pitfalls, however. Temperature extremes during the summer months can range from 33 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures dip to as low as 40 degrees below zero.
Along with the cold, snow is a constant hindrance in the winter months. Come spring, crews begin the arduous task of clearing the 92-mile park road which can take weeks to accomplish. Only the first 15 miles of the road are open to public vehicles and anyone wishing to go further must do so aboard tour buses. Most do not complain, however, as a majority of the road is not paved and vehicle travel can be tricky on the muddy trail.
Even with its remote location the park hosts an estimated 1.1 million visitors a year.
An interesting side-note, when the park was first created in 1917, only a small portion of the Mount McKinley, not even including its summit, was within the parks boundaries.