Healy is a census-designated place (CDP) in the borough seat of Denali Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 1,021 at the 2010 census, up from 1,000 in 2000. Healy is located about 11 miles north of the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve along the George Parks Highway in Interior Alaska. Originally established as a coal-mining town in the early 1900s, many of Healy’s 1,025 residents still earn their livings from the nearby Usibelli Coal Mine. Tourism is the second-largest industry for this small town, though, and Healy features several restaurants, hotels, motels and lodges along with flightseeing operators that take visitors on scenic tours of Denali.
The history of Healy is intertwined with that of Coal mining and construction of the Alaska Railroad, which both began in the area in 1918 and 1919 respectively. Healy was originally named Healy Fork after the Healy River. The Healy River was named after Capt. John J. Healy, manager of the North American Trading and Transportation Company.
To the north of Healy, on the highway’s western side, is the historic Stampede Trail, originally built in the 1930s as a route to the Stampede Mine, once Alaska’s prime producer of antimony. The mine ceased operations in 1970, and since 1980 its abandoned mill and other buildings have been located within Denali National Park and Preserve’s expanded borders. Today the trail is a rugged track used primarily by snowmobilers, mushers and skiers in late winter, when travel is easier. The wilderness trail does draw a number of summer visitors who want to view the Fairbanks City bus where Chris McCandless, the subject of Jon Krakauer’s 1997 bestseller Into The Wild, lived and died. In Healy, visitors can arrange ATV tours of the trail for stunning views of Denali and the Savage and Teklanika rivers.
Usibelli Coal Mine conducts daily one-hour tours throughout the summer. Guests visit its quality-control office, main shop, warehouse, coal hopper and crusher.