Denali Travel Tips
Towering 20,310 feet in Interior Alaska is the mighty Denali, the largest mountain in North America. Denali resides in Denali National Park & Preserve, a stunning landscape of tundra, rivers, and mountains spanning 6.1 million acres. But it’s not just Denali’s snow-covered peaks that makes this place so special.
The park is home to an amazing array of wildlife including 37 species of mammals including the “big five”: brown bear, moose, wolf, Dall sheep, and caribou; and 130 species of birds. It’s no wonder that Denali National Park is one of the top destinations for visitors to Alaska. Make the most of your Denali experience by planning ahead and making advance reservations and preparations. Read our insider’s Denali travel tips to learn how to have the best experience at Denali National Park this summer.
A note for visitors from 2023 - 2026:
The Denali Park Road will be open until mile 43 from 2023 - 2026 due to road improvements. Narrated bus tours and transit buses will continue to be available for guests visiting the park and will travel as far as mile 43. The main visitor center will remain open along with four campgrounds and numerous trails accessible via the park road. Please check with Kantishna-area businesses about their operational plans for lodging and excursions from 2023 - 2026. Free shuttle bus service will run every 15 minutes during peak visitation times between the Denali Bus Depot / Denali Visitor Center to the Mountain Vista and Savage River Trailheads.
GETTING TO DENALI
Most people get to Denali by train, motorcoach, or their own vehicle. Catch the train from Fairbanks, Talkeetna, or Anchorage for a memorable scenic ride. Multi-day packages and a-la-carte motorcoach options also depart from Fairbanks, Talkeetna, and Anchorage. Driving personal vehicles is popular among visitors and locals alike, meaning that some vehicle-accessible areas fill up quickly. Be sure to get to your destination early for the best chances of finding parking.
Book your lodging first when planning your trip to Denali. While there are a wide variety of hotel and lodging options in the Denali area, they do book up fast. Book early, and If you can’t find accommodations in the Denali area, try Talkeetna, Fairbanks, or other communities in the Denali area.
VISITING THE PARK
Near the park entrance, you can meet the Denali Sled Dogs and enjoy the majority of the park's designated hiking trails. Or, take a flightseeing trip departing from Denali or Talkeetna to experience the vast landscape from above. Add a glacier landing for up-close views of the mountain.
The Denali National Park Visitor Center near the park entrance is a great place to start your Denali adventure. Here, you can view interpretive displays, pick up park maps, and ask rangers any questions you have about the park. The popular bus tours into Denali National Park are running at 100% occupancy and masks are required. While both narrated tours and shuttle buses are available, schedules and routes are reduced, so be sure to book your tour early to ensure your spot. Visit the Denali National Park Current Conditions Page for a full list of operational updates.
Can’t book a bus tour? There are many other ways to enjoy Denali National Park. The park offers free shuttles that run every 15 minutes during the summer, including the Savage River Shuttle (taking you out to trailheads at Mountain Vista and Savage River), Riley Creek Loop Shuttle (linking all major visitor facilities in the park), and Sled Dog Demonstration Shuttle (the only way other than walking to get to the sled dog demonstration). The Savage River Shuttle is a great option if you have limited time and are looking for a scenic 2 hour round-trip ride into the park or want to access popular hiking trails like the Savage River Trail or Savage Alpine Trail. Keep an eye out for wildlife, which can be seen throughout the entire park. Visit the park's shuttle page for a full schedule.
There’s no shortage of adventures to be had in the Denali area, from ATVs to ziplines. You’ll also find rafting, fishing, hiking, photography tours, and so much more. Again, book early to ensure your spot. Be flexible and have a couple of days/time slots in mind in case your first choice is booked.
All of that activity is bound to make you hungry. During the summer, there are a wide variety of restaurants in the Denali Park area, from fine dining with fantastic views to local brewpubs to pizza and Thai food. During peak summer season, restaurants can fill up early and have longer wait times. If you can, stock up on snacks before your Denali trip so you have plenty of fuel for your adventures.
If you’re planning on visiting Denali or any other top destination in Alaska this summer, be sure to book early, plan ahead, and be flexible! These small steps will help you have the ultimate Alaska adventure.
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