Denali National Park Bear Viewing Tours


Your best chance to see bears lies between mile 20 and 60 of the Park Road, with the Sable Pass area at mile 39 being the sweet spot. Since the Park Road is closed to private vehicles after mile 14, your options are to ride the Park Shuttle or take a private bus tour offered by several concessionaires.

The Bears

We hesitate to include Denali in our list of bear viewing locations, because unlike fly-in bear viewing hot spots, 1) you’re less likely to see them, 2) you may see only one or two, and 3) they may be far away. Yet both the Interior grizzly bear and black bear can be spotted from the road. Grizzlies or black bears may be spotted digging up roots and eating sedges, chasing down small critters or ambling across wide-open tundra. You are in a huge, protected wilderness, and seeing a massive, blonde grizzly grazing the tundra or sauntering across the road in front of your bus is truly a stirring moment.


You’ll be looking for bears, and other wildlife, from the windows of your bus. If you spot a bear, let the driver know, and they’ll stop. At this point, it’s great to have binoculars. Unless you choose to get dropped off by the Denali Park Shuttle Bus for a hiking or camping trip, you’ll be confined to the bus and won’t be wandering around on the ground too much. You can opt for bus rides ranging four hours to more than twelve hours.


Since the bears in Denali are not timed to certain salmon streams, you have a chance of spotting them anytime the Park Road is open, which generally runs from the first week of June to the second week of September. Peak season is June 11-Sept 8.

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Bear Viewing Tours

Park Road Tours View All

These are the busses you'll ride into the park for bear and other wildlife viewing.

Season: May 12 - Sep 20 $114+ 4.5 to 12 hrs

The best way to get an overview of Denali Nation­al Park is aboard one of the park bus­es, which fea­ture a trained nat­u­ral­ist who both dri­ves and pro­vides nar­ra­tion. Avail­able tours include the Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Tour (45 hrs), and the Tun­dra Wilder­ness Tour (55.5 hrs).

Season: May 1 - Sept 30 $29+ 3+ hrs to Multi-Day Rentals

If you want to expe­ri­ence Denali Nation­al Park, Bike Denali has a fun, unique way to do it — on two wheels! Options include after­noon rentals to ride around the park entrance, full-day rentals to the explore the Denali Park Road to mul­ti-day rentals for bike camp­ing. Opt for a moun­tain bike, or eBike.

Season: Year Round Custom pricing, contact for rates Full Day & Multi-Day

Tra­verse Alas­ka can craft ful­ly-guid­ed cus­tom adven­tures, or set you up on a trip into the Alas­ka wilder­ness arm­ing you with some know-how — and pro­vid­ing you with the inde­pen­dence to freely explore. Excur­sions include pri­vate day hikes, raft­ing and pack­raft­ing, and mul­ti-day backpacking. 

Season: Sept 19 - April 21 $249+ per person 10 hours

A guid­ed day trip out of Fair­banks reveals the qui­et win­ter land­scape of the Tanana Val­ley and Denali Nation­al Park. Walk or snow­shoe on pic­turesque trails through the bore­al for­est, deep in the heart of the Alas­ka range.

This flex­i­ble alter­na­tive to the stan­dard bus tour is an excel­lent option for inde­pen­dent trav­el­ers. Get off any­where, spend a few hours hik­ing, then catch anoth­er bus back to the park entrance (as long as a seat is avail­able). You can take a short ride before start­ing your adven­ture, or trav­el out to Kan­tish­na, at the end of the park road. See adjust­ed ser­vices for 2023.

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Most Notable Bear Viewing Spots

These are the most common areas to spot bears along the Denali Park Road

The griz­zly bears of Denali can be found feed­ing in almost every cor­ner of Denali Nation­al Park. Ear­ly to mid sum­mer, these bears can be often observed from Tho­ro­fare Pass. What draws these adapt­able and per­sis­tent omni­vores to this high alpine envi­ron­ment? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.

Igloo Creek is one of three tent-only camp­grounds in the park. Sit­u­at­ed right next to the creek, it is a great place to relax and enjoy the wilder­ness and the area around the camp­ground offers great hik­ing opportunities.

Sable Pass on the Denali Park Road is a wildlife hotspot. The area is des­ig­nat­ed as crit­i­cal griz­zly bear coun­try in Denali Nation­al Park, so it is per­ma­nent­ly closed in order to pro­tect wildlife. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 9 miles Elevation Gain: 3200 feet

This hike does not require cross­ing any glac­i­ers or dan­ger­ous streams, which makes for a good overnight hike for those who car­ry an overnight camp­ing permit.

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