Denali National Park Bear Viewing Tours

Where?

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.

Viewing

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.

Season

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: Jun 04 to Sep 12 $199 14 hours

Explore all 92 miles of the Denali Park Road and have the entire trip nar­rat­ed by an expe­ri­enced dri­ver. Not only will you see leg­endary land­marks such as Poly­chrome Pass, Won­der Lake and Reflec­tion Pond, you will have oppor­tu­ni­ties to see the abun­dance of wildlife in the park. Enjoy a hot lunch, explore the grounds, pan for gold, or take a short walk along the creek, or relax in a rock­er at the lodge and soak up the scenery.

Season: Jun 05 to Sep 13 $199 13.5 hrs

Most peo­ple who vis­it the six-mil­lion-acre Denali Nation­al Park only see rough­ly the first dozen — or maybe 50 — miles of the leg­endary park Road. But this tour takes you all the way to the depths of Kan­tish­na — the heart of the Park where you have the chance to expe­ri­ence post­card-per­fect views of Mt. McKin­ley. This tour makes for a full day — from about 6 in the morn­ing until 7 or 8 in the evening — but it’s an adven­ture of a lifetime.

Season: Year Round Custom pricing, contact for rates Full 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. Tra­verse Alaska’s own­er, Joe and his local team can help facil­i­tate stays in lodges, cab­ins, tents or yurts, and pro­vide the nec­es­sary gear and instructions..

Season: May 15 to Sep 18 $101.75+ 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), Tun­dra Wilder­ness Tour (78 hrs), The Eiel­son Excur­sion (89 hrs) or The Kan­tish­na Expe­ri­ence (1112 hrs)

Season: May - September $270+ 1 hr+

This is the only flight­see­ing com­pa­ny with an airstrip in Kan­tish­na, inside Denali Nation­al Park. Because you depart so much clos­er to the moun­tain than oth­er tours, in a one-hour flight, you’ll get 40 min­utes cir­cling the moun­tain. You may also com­bine a one-way park road bus tour with a Denali flight­see­ing tour for an incred­i­ble overview of the park.

This flex­i­ble alter­na­tive to the stan­dard bus tour is a great 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. 

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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.

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.

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. 

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.

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