Denali National Park and Preserve Travel Guide

  • Denali from the McKinley River Bar
    Denali from the McKinley River Bar
    by pulpcouture
  • Tundra valleys
    Tundra valleys
    by HasTowelWillTravel
  • Denali National Park, Alaska
    Denali National Park, Alaska
    by karenincalifornia

Denali National Park and Preserve Highlights

  • Pro
    mrclay2000 profile photo

    mrclay2000 says…

     All the big wildlife, the highest spot in North America 

  • Con
    karenincalifornia profile photo

    karenincalifornia says…

     Mosquitos, kind of a drag when it rains 

  • In a nutshell
    worldtrekker profile photo

    worldtrekker says…

     A must-see park in a must-see state 

Denali National Park and Preserve Things to Do

  • Mt. McKinley

    Wonder Lake is the end of the park road, literally. The road goes a little bit past the lake to a couple of lodges, but really, Wonder Lake is it, and round-trip, it's a 12 hour ride! I've taken the camper bus out to Wonder Lake and had a wonderful experience. We camped on the McKinley bar and after hiking down in a virtual monsoon, woke up to see...

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  • Wildlife

    We decided to go on the Eielson shuttle bus, instead of the Tundra Wilderness Tour, which is popular among tourists, especially cruise passengers like ourselves. The Eielson shuttle goes further into Denali National Park (66 miles versus 53 miles) and is a lot cheaper (around $40/person versus $90/person). We booked Eielson shuttle tickets for 8:30...

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  • Tundra Wilderness Tour

    Take a Denali Park tour in a converted school bus. Private cars are only allowed to Mile 15 on the Park Road, so busses are the way to see it. Terry was an entertaining guide, and good at spotting wildlife. No bears on this drive the day I went, but we did see a number of moose, and some distant white specks that were sheep.. Terry says there are...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Hotels

Denali National Park and Preserve Restaurants

  • Pizza for the Daring or Not

    We got a tip from one of the Glitter Gulch shop employees that Prospector's Pizza served really good pizza and that a lot of the locals and employees ate there. We decided to have lunch there on our last day in Denali. Prospector’s Pizza might be a bit of a hike if you have mobility issues and staying at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge because...

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  • The Best Crab Legs Ever!

    The King Salmon Restaurant is located inside the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge but you do not need to be a guest to dine there. It has the atmosphere of a fancy, upscale restaurant with servers in tuxedos but all the patrons dress casually since the restaurant understands you are coming back from a day at a National Park. I ordered the King Crab...

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  • Decent Grill Parkside

    Along with a dearth of accommodations, there are few restaurants inside the boundary of Denali National Park. The one that exists is the Morino Grill. The grill is adequate, good for a hot meal after a long day of hiking. The fare at the grill is mostly what you'd expect from a deli or burger joint. Be forewarned it is not cheap: you're not only...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Nightlife

  • by emerson24_2002 Written May 18, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Totem Bar was closed for some reason, but the place adjacent to the Princess Lodge (who's name currently eludes me) are the two places you can go for a beer/music, other than the Princess lodge as I mentioned before.

    At the place I went to (who's name I can't remember) had a band playing down stairs.
    In this town, everyone who works there in the summer is from somewhere else. It's just a summer gig for these folks. I met a girl who was from New Orleans, another was from Michigan, and others were from just as far away; hence, it's a crowd that's very upbeat and friendly. Most people are in their twenties, hedging on mid or earlier. But age is relative, and who cares when everyone is upbeat and positive. Good Vibes!

    Dress Code: HAHA! A dress code....In Alaska. That's funny! The dress is whatever you want.

    There is a place in Fairbanks where I live and you have bikers, farmers, business people, doctors, students, physical therapist, and real estate people.....you have married, young, old, single, handicapped...... It's a melting pot of everyone, and everyone get's along just fine. It's all good. That's what's so incredible about Alaska! It truly is a great place to live!

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Denali National Park and Preserve Transportation

  • Buses

    The shuttle bus is the way to go if you want some control of your time spent in Denali Park. However, there is a HUGE difference in the experience you get from the drivers. Our driver on the way to Eilson (Rodney) was great and very informative. He explained a lot of the history, geology and wildlife in the park. The drivers on the busses we...

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  • Alaska Railroad

    The Alaska Railroad is, in my opinion, the best way to get to Denali National Park. It takes a bit longer, but it winds through some of the most gorgeous scenery I've seen from a train. It is about an 8 hour ride from Anchorage to Denali, and the train drops you right in the park, just across the street from the Visitor's Center. You thread...

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  • Shuttle bus experience

    The shuttle bus is the way to go if you want some control of your time spent in Denali Park. However, there is a HUGE difference in the experience you get from the drivers. Our driver on the way to Eilson (Rodney) was great and very informative. He explained a lot of the history, geology and wildlife in the park. The drivers on the busses we rode...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Shopping

  • Alaska's Coolest Animals

    Alaska's Coolest Animals is my favourite video brought from Denali. "Wrestle with polar bears, swim underwater with sea otters, hunt with eagles - in fact, you’ll meet and learn about more than 50 different Alaska animals! Alaska’s Coolest Animals is a fascinating and fun-filled wildlife adventure!"

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  • Shopping in and around Denali National...

    If you are backpacking in Denali National Park, I recommend you pick up all your necessities before you drive or fly to the Park. However, there are opportunities in and around the park to pick up a lot of things you may have forgotten.Inside the National Park, there is a fairly large convience store, the McKinley Mercantile, where campers and...

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  • Denali National Park and Preserve Hotels

    17 Hotels in Denali National Park and Preserve

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Denali National Park and Preserve Local Customs

  • Proper Hand Signals

    Park personnel and especially the bus drivers use an interesting system of hand signals to identify animal sightings in the park. A "wolf" is signified by holding up the first three fingers like a "W," a "lynx" by forming an "L" with your thumb and index finger. A "bear" is identified by a clawed hand, a "caribou" by extending the index finger and...

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  • Christmas in August!

    I 've been surprised to know about one of Denali Park traditions to celebrate Christmas in August too. Local people explained me it was because on 23rd of August at Denali Park often started snowing. No, don't be afraid! It's not real snowfall, just a little. But I like this tradition - Santa Claus, Christmas gifts, decorated Christmas tree,...

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  • Bustling train station

    Holland and Princess are the biggest tour operators in Denali. They combine their cruise with land tours, bringing in thousands of tourists everyday. Also, their season starts early in May, while the Park doesn't officially open till Memorial Day weekend. So, when I visited Denali in early May, it's almost as if the Park was owned by Holland and...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Warnings and Dangers

  • Wildlife

    I was taking a mid-afternoon hike in early August along the beautiful Savage River Loop Trail in Denali National Park, and was not more than half a mile from returning to the parking lot where I had left my vehicle. Grizzly Bear was on my mind because I had seen one from the highway just an hour earlier, a couple of miles or so before reaching the...

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  • Weather

    The weather in the Denali Park itself, especially as you go deeper into its realm and higher into its altitudes, is very much in flux. It may seem like a pretty nice day as you board your park bus, and in a few hours, you could find yourself in a snow storm. We did. When we left the Denali Dome Home in Healy (maybe 10 miles away), it was crisp...

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  • Loss of Property in Bear Bins

    If you use the walk-in camping area, exercise extreme care in placing food, cosmetic and medicinal items (as well as all cookware) in the bear-proof bins provided. You're legally required to do so, with a large fine if you don't. These bins aren't lockable... and every item we placed in the nearest bin was stolen. We provided written feedback to...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Tourist Traps

  • Canyon Area - Some good, some bad

    The Canyon Area just north of Denali Park is across the street from the big tour company resorts and most of the shops are geared to that crowd. Be careful about buying the first souveniers that catch your eye as many shops carry same/similar iteems and the prices can vary greatly. Also, if you get a chance to go to a Wal-mart or Fred Meyers, they...

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  • The Great One isn't the End All Be All...

    Denali can be worth it, but as an alternative, consider driving south, or better yet, take the train. I think there are a lot more options and prettier scenery if you go south from Anchorage. All in all, seems like more bang for your buck with a short trip. If the weather is really great, though, I would drive North far enough to check out the...

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  • Please Don't Act the Fool

    Wildlife displays exist at many stops along the park road, but these are meant to educate rather than entertain. Since it violates federal regulations to remove anything from the park (from a ram's horn to a grizzly's tooth to a sprig of spruce), the park might intend these items to be hands-on to overcome a visitor's temptation to find (and swipe)...

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Denali National Park and Preserve What to Pack

  • Good Resources

    With no trails in the backcountry, it can be a daunting task to set out. This book from Ike Waits, "Denali National Park; Guide to Hiking, Photography & Camping" helps lay out some of the areas of the park to get you acquainted with what kind of hiking you can expect out there. It is a great resource.

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  • Backcountry Hiking Essentials

    * Waterproof hiking boots - the tundra can be quite wet and sloppy, and small puddles abound.* Gaiters - these babies keep the top of your boots dry and the bottoms of your pants clear.* Jacket - keeps water off of you and wind out of your hair. * Topo map - with no trails in the backcountry, a good map is essential to help find your way...

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  • Be Prepared for Wet and/or Cold Weather

    For six months of the year the high temperature in Denali is well below freezing, with the coldest month being January when the average high, in the lowlands, is 9F and the average low is -8F. It can get much colder. June, July and August have the most pleasant temperatures, but are also the wettest months. The mountains often cause precipitation...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Off The Beaten Path

  • Nearby towns

    When travelling from Anchorage to Denali National Park, you should stop and check out the rustic town of Talkeetna. This town is the launching base of climbs up Mount McKinley as well as bush flights to view the Alaskan Range. More information and photos are at my VT Talkeetna page.

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  • Hiking/ Trails

    You can hike nearly anywhere in the national park. You need will a backcountry permit for some areas and a few areas are prohibited wildlife areas where hiking is not allowed. But other than that, the area is yours to explore. There are no maintained trails in the backcountry so its important to have a good topo map, compass and the knowledge of...

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  • Wildlife

    Apparently there were a higher number of lynx sightings in Denali in 2001 which meant that these felines were at the height of their population cycle. They follow the snowshoe hares' population very closely. If there are a lot of hares, the lynx numbers increase as well. This goes in ten year cycles. Then there's a crash in the population and it...

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Denali National Park and Preserve Sports & Outdoors

  • The Wild Nenana

    There are few completely un-dammed rivers left in the world, especially in the United States. The Nenana river is one of them. Fed from glaciers, it sluices through the mountains, making its way hundreds of miles north to the Bering Sea. This river offers some excellent whitewater rafting. The narrower section is rated a class III/IV rapids, all...

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  • Wilderness Hiking

    Hiking is very popular in Denali National Park during the summer months, yet there are only a few short marked hiking trails, most of these being near the entrance and the campgrounds. However, since much of the terrain is above tree line, cross-country hiking is easy. Usually hikers follow ridge lines or river beds. It's a good idea to wear a bear...

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  • Rafting on the Nenana River

    There are several rafting companies to choose from that offer tours for the novice to more expertly rafter. You can spot most of them along the Parks Highway in the canyon!

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Denali National Park and Preserve Favorites

  • Wildlife

    Nowhere that I have been on the North American continent have I seen more impressive and diverse wildlife in such profusion as at Denali National Park. It is one of the few places anywhere that the average visitor can realistically expect to see Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep and Grizzly Bear all in the same day. Many also report sighting one of the...

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  • Visitor's Center

    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...

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  • Hiking/ Trails

    Horseshoe lake can be reached via a pretty short trail near the Denali visitor's center. If I'm remembering correctly, the trail was about 2 miles round trip and had only minimal elevation gain. The views of the lake, and the surroinding mountains, are spectacular, even under the typically cloudy conditions that surround Denali.

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Explore Deeper into Denali National Park and Preserve
Sled Dogs
Things to Do
Lakes/ Rivers
Things to Do
Mountains/ Viewpoints
Things to Do
Rafting
Things to Do
Mt. McKinley
Favorites
Camping/ Lodging
Favorites
Rafting
Favorites
Wilderness Tours
Things to Do
Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater
Things to Do
Take The Full Tundra Tour!!!
Things to Do
My Encounter with a Grizzly Bear
Warnings and Dangers
Get Off the Bus, Gus
Transportation
hiking Denali's backcountry
Off The Beaten Path
McKinley Discovery Tour
Things to Do
Husky Homestead Tour
Things to Do
Be prepared for varying weather
Warnings and Dangers
Feeding the bears can get everyone killed
Warnings and Dangers
Shuttle Bus System - Savage River Bus
Transportation
Shuttle Bus System - Green Bus
Transportation
Off The Beaten Path? Off All Paths
Off The Beaten Path
Horseshoe Lake Trail
Things to Do
Wise Words
Favorites
Wildlife Viewing
Things to Do
Mt. Healy Trail
Things to Do
Amazing View
Transportation
Wildlife and Scenery
Things to Do
The End of the Road
Things to Do
Denali's Foxes
Things to Do
Shuttle bus vs. tour bus
Transportation
Alpenglow restaurant
Restaurants
More photos of the elusive mountain
Favorites
Horseshoe lake on a cloudy morning hike
Favorites
Beware of Bears
Warnings and Dangers
Wilderness
Off The Beaten Path
The mountain- if you can
Things to Do
Wildlife: Its everywhere if you're patient!
Things to Do
White water rafting the Nenana river
Things to Do
Ye olde mining camp
Things to Do
Denali Backcountry Safaris
Things to Do
camper bus = green bus
Transportation
Map of Denali National Park and Preserve

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