Visitor's Center, Denali National Park and Preserve
The Visitor's Center is a good place to start and pick up information and brochures on Denali. There are 2 Visitor's Centers, one at the entrance of the park, the other at mile marker 66 (Eielson Visitor Center). You can watch a 15 minute film on Denali, talk with rangers, book shuttle or tour buses, join a ranger-led hike and purchase books and souvenirs. Can pay the park entrance fee here.
Admission to the Park - $5.00 per person, $10.00 per family. Admission price is included in Tundra Wilderness Tour but not the shuttle buses.
Favorite thing: In the main visitor center there are only images and videos talking of the practical necessities and perils of hiking in Denali. Eielson Visitor Center has other displays, including (at the time of my visit) a pair of caribou antlers on the front drive (see my tourist trap tip). The Teklanika bus stop featured the hides of a black and a grizzly bear, presumably to educate visitors on the park's most popular denizen. (Note: removing such articles from your rambles in the park is a federal offense, and subject to federal prosecution.)
There is a modern visitors center located inside the front entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve at mile 0.7. Here you will find books and souvenirs, interpretative programs, a slideshow, and you may also obtain permits for camping and backcountry travel. Eielson Visitor Center, at mile 66, is currently under reconstriction.
In the town of Talkeetna there is a Ranger Station. Regular visitor center services are offered here, in addition to check-in and orientation for mountaineers.
The entrance visitor center and the Talkeetna ranger station are open year-round, but hours vary with the season. Click the web link below for current details.
Denali Visitor Information
Fondest memory: Wow! Here it was, the view from Eielson Visitor Center. This was the end of the road for us on this day. When you book your shuttle bus trip, you have a choice of either coming this far (which is an 8 hour roundtrip) or continuing on to Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake increases the cost (insignificant) and adds another 2-4 hours for the roundtrip. I'm not certain about the time. You also have the option to camp, of course by prior arrangement. This is where those famous shots are taken with moose in a lake with an amazing Mt. McKinley in the background. Check out Richiecdiscs ALASKA page. He camped at Wonder Lake and has pics of a caribou swimming the lake. Awesome!
The first thing to do when arriving in Denali National Park is to make a stop at the Visitor Center. This is where you get all your information about the park; camping possibilities, hiking in the backcountry, shuttle bus info and tickets, wildlife safety video, etc. This is also where you catch your shuttle into the park.
Fondest memory: There is a second visitor center at Eielson. To get here involves at least an 8 hour trip. If you decide to do some hiking here and catch a later bus back to the park's entrance, then your trip into the park will be longer. There is a fantastic view from Eielson Visitor Center of Mt McKinley on clear days. There is also a small gift shop here as well as a couple of rangers who will be happy to answer any questions. Wildlife sightings here are normal. I have personally seen caribou, a fox, and ground squirrels right at the center. Grizzlys come by a fair amount and I did see 2 from here through a telescope. You never know what's going to drop by... =)
In the photo is Tove from Norway. She was on a tour with me here and this was taken just a couple of hours after our live lynx sighting! We asked the ranger here about this particular lynx and how it came to be here on the counter... I believe she said it was illegally trapped and confiscated. Hunting these animals is legal in much of Alaska! :(
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