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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Park Road Tours View All

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

Season: Sep 19 to May 09 $63+

Win­ter in Alas­ka is a mag­i­cal time, with few­er vis­i­tors and a serene, snow-cov­ered land­scape. If you’re here from mid-Sep­tem­ber to mid-May, you can take it in from the com­fort of the Auro­ra Win­ter Train, which runs between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It’s an easy and mem­o­rable way to trav­el north and expe­ri­ence the auro­ra bore­alis, or even do a week­end get­away to Talkeetna.

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $315+ 45 - 70 mins

Denali Air flights see the majes­tic moun­tain a whop­ping 90% of the time, thanks to the company’s expe­ri­enced pilots and its loca­tion just out­side the park. And, every­one is guar­an­teed a win­dow seat. Lis­ten to your pilot nar­rate while you enjoy the views.

Season: May 22 to Sep 08 $115+ 2.5 to 3.5 hrs

This tour is an adven­ture­some alter­na­tive to a bus ride into the park. Denali ATV Adven­tures offers sev­er­al tours that let you explore the areas sur­round­ing Denali Nation­al Park. On your jour­ney, you’ll splash through rivers, dri­ve over tree root-rut­ted trails, and four-wheel up to some of the area’s most spec­tac­u­lar vis­tas. Dri­ve your own ATV, or be the pas­sen­ger and enjoy the ride. 

Season: May 13 to Sep 16 $99 - $329 7+ hrs

Rid­ing the train in Alas­ka is a relax­ing and fun way to take in amaz­ing sights around every bend, and many trav­el­ers choose a dome car for the best view­ing expe­ri­ence. When you’re head­ed north of Anchor­age, hop on a Wilder­ness Express pri­vate dome car for deluxe view­ing at great value.

Soar­ing high at 20,310 feet is Denali (for­mer­ly named Mt. McKin­ley after an Ohio Sen­a­tor who nev­er vis­it­ed Alas­ka). The moun­tain was renamed Denali in 2015. Equal­ly impres­sive are its near­by cousins: Mt. Forak­er (17,400), and Mt. Hunter (14,573). These three dom­i­nate the sky­line for hun­dreds of miles. You can get up close and per­son­al with the Roof of North Amer­i­ca” on a flight­see­ing tour. Up here, you are sur­round­ed by ridges and peaks,…  ...more

Peo­ple vis­it Denali Nation­al Park for two main rea­sons: to see Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) and to view wildlife. While nei­ther expe­ri­ence is guar­an­teed, your odds of see­ing wildlife are good if you know where to look. Here are the top spots to see bears, wolves, birds, and more.

Season: May 22 to Sep 08 $139

Go on the typ­i­cal zipline and you get a love­ly ride under a canopy of trees. But with this unique zipline tour — the only one in the Denali Nation­al Park area— you ride above the tree line, so that you can take in sweep­ing, 360-degree views of miles around, includ­ing the tun­dra and the Alas­ka Range.

$70 - $170

The only same-day ser­vice between Seward and Denali Nation­al Park! Enjoy the ride aboard a deluxe motor­coach with com­fort­able seats, pic­ture win­dows, in-seat pow­er out­lets, and an onboard restroom. Offer­ing reg­u­lar sched­uled sum­mer ser­vice con­nect­ing Seward, Whit­ti­er, Anchor­age, Tal­keet­na, and Denali, plus spe­cial cruise con­nec­tions on ship days.

Season: Jun 05 to Aug 15 $97+ 3 - 9.5 hrs

Just out­side Denali Nation­al Park, the Nenana Riv­er offers a unique raft­ing expe­ri­ence: The riv­er is big and icy cold, with glacial­ly fed waters. But this raft­ing out­fit­ter based near the Park Entrance offers a soul-warm­ing expe­ri­ence on the riv­er, which makes an excel­lent coun­ter­part to a bus tour through the nation­al park. Choose a quick 3 hour trip on mild water or splash through some rapids. Or opt for a longer excur­sion rang­ing from 5.5 -  ...more

How and where to find Alaska’s glac­i­ers — some of the state’s most beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al attractions

Season: Year Round Group HIkes $199/person | Denali Park Road $895/vehicle (up to 8 people) 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..

$59 2.5 hrs

Get the insider’s per­spec­tive on the Idi­tar­od Trail Sled Dog Race from vet­er­an mush­er and Alaskan celebri­ty Jeff King, who has claimed first place four times. He will regale you with tales from the trail and intro­duce you to his dogs dur­ing a tour of his sled-dog train­ing cen­ter, the Husky Home­stead. Here, for more than two decades, Jeff has offered vis­i­tors a look at what goes into cre­at­ing a cham­pi­onship team and carv­ing a life in the Alaska  ...more

Season: Jun 13 to Sep 12 $560+ per person

For a lot of trav­el­ers, explor­ing deep into Denali Nation­al Park, far from the crowds, sounds like the ide­al way to expe­ri­ence the famous park. But not every­one wants to rough it out there — which is why this lodge is the per­fect bal­ance, a com­fort­able perch in seri­ous­ly remote wilderness.

Season: May 29 to Oct 30 $220+ per night

An exclu­sive lake­side oasis with hide­away cab­ins acces­si­ble by car and only 7 miles south of Denali Nation­al Park entrance. In addi­tion to lux­u­ri­ous accom­mo­da­tions, you can enjoy the art gallery, arti­san bak­ery, and spa­cious lawn with a camp­fire cir­cle and a love­ly view of the Alas­ka Range.

$640/night all-inclusive packages

At Camp Denali, you’ll immerse your­self in a remote back­coun­try, but with a cozy bed to set­tle into each night. Take in the qui­et of the sur­round­ing wilder­ness and enjoy the sim­ple, sus­tain­able ameni­ties for around 38 guests. Here, the bal­ance of light touch on the land” and pro­vid­ing a com­fort­able stay is per­fect­ed. Refined rus­tic guest cab­ins, each of which claims a unique view of Denali, sleep from two to six people.

If you’re dying to try famous Alaskan salmon in a land­mark set­ting, this is tru­ly the place to do it. Known as The Bake,” this restau­rant has been open since 1984. Just a mile from the park, it’s Denali’s orig­i­nal road­side attraction.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

This pop­u­lar trail attracts lots of folks, so don’t expect to be the only hik­er. It’s still worth the trip. The trail begins at Mile 0.9 on the park road near the rail­road tracks. You’ll walk on a devel­oped trail down to the lake. After you reach the Over­look, the trail drops steeply. Along the way, espe­cial­ly at the over­look bench, you’ll have a panoram­ic view of the Nenana Riv­er, the devel­op­ment called Glit­ter Gulch” right out­side the park,  ...more

Season: May 13 to Sep 21 $159.95 4 hrs

The Black Dia­mond ATV Trea­sure Hunt back­coun­try adven­ture, just out­side Denali, offers both a skilled guide and a splash of think-for-your­self adven­ture. Your ride can be fast and excit­ing or slow and leisure­ly — it’s up to you. Unlike some oth­er ATV trips, you don’t have to do the dri­ving; a pro is at the wheel of the Polaris ATV. You’ll explore old coal-min­ing trails and the Dry Creek Riv­er Bed, where Athabas­can Indi­an arti­facts have been found  ...more

Step aboard Princess Rail, whose cars have two lev­els with 360-degree dome views, a din­ing area, and large open-air plat­forms at the rear. You may choose to ride as an inde­pen­dent trav­el­er, or with a larg­er pack­age that will include lodg­ing at the Princess prop­er­ties along the way.

Season: May 20 to Sep 18 $99

Expe­ri­ence the thrill of rush­ing rapids or a mild white­wa­ter float through one of America’s great wilder­ness areas with raft­ing from Denali Park Vil­lage. Oper­at­ing on two stretch­es of the Nenana Riv­er for near­ly 30 years, this company’s guides not only know the area, but also are versed in its nat­ur­al his­to­ry. Their guide safe­ty train­ing pro­gram is among the most exten­sive in Alas­ka. Add to that a pri­vate river­side launch, a brand-new boathouse,  ...more

The open-con­cept pub­lic house offers clas­sic food with a shot of Alas­ka flair. The pub­lic house’s spe­cial­ty is slow-smoked brisket, but the local­ly sourced menu also offers bacon-wrapped bison meat­loaf, cari­bou burg­ers and fresh, local sheefish. Wash down your din­ner with one of 12 local brews on tap and cock­tails such as the Amer­i­can Tril­o­gy (includ­ing Alas­ka made spir­its) and a Smoked Salmon Bloody Mary.

Custom, Call for Quote 3+ Days

Tra­verse Alas­ka cre­ates cus­tom tours in the Denali Nation­al Park area that allow trav­el­ers to enjoy the mag­ic of Alas­ka at their own pace. Win­ter itin­er­aries include icon­ic Alaskan cold-weath­er activ­i­ties in South­cen­tral and Inte­ri­or Alas­ka. After all, Alas­ka in win­ter is a very spe­cial time of year — qui­eter, full of snow-frost­ed trees, and frozen snow-cov­ered ground cre­ates an out­door play­ground in every direction.

Season: May 20 to Sep 13 $98+

The fam­i­ly-run Denali Griz­zly Bear Resort offers a vari­ety of accom­mo­da­tions, great ameni­ties, and amaz­ing views of moun­tains and the Nenana Riv­er. And its loca­tion, six miles south of the Denali Nation­al Park Vis­i­tors Cen­ter but out­side the main tourist area, means you’ll have easy park access with­out feel­ing crowd­ed. Choose from their hotel rooms, pri­vate cab­ins, or campground.

$389+

Take in the scenic views from the domed win­dows in the pri­vate McKin­ley Explor­er rail­cars by Gray Line Alas­ka. Inde­pen­dent trav­el­ers can book a seat, but most opt for a mul­ti-day pack­age includ­ing hotel and trans­fers. Enjoy excel­lent ser­vice from your car man­ag­er, who will point out sights and scenery along the way. Dine in the restau­rant locat­ed just beneath you, and don’t miss a thing as you con­tin­ue to gaze out of large pic­ture windows.  ...more

It’s 92 miles and about 5 hours from the park entrance to Kan­tish­na, the end of the Park Road. Pri­vate vehi­cles aren’t per­mit­ted after Mile 15, so you’ll need to take either the hop-on, hop-off park shut­tle bus or one of the tour bus­es. This road is only open in the sum­mer months between May and ear­ly Sep­tem­ber. Dates vary depend­ing on annu­al snowfall.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

Either dri­ve your own car or take the free shut­tle 15 miles out the park road to the Sav­age Riv­er check sta­tion. This is a pop­u­lar hik­ing trail, and you won’t be alone, but at least you’re away from the entrance area and enter­ing the true wilder­ness of Denali Nation­al Park. This is a tun­dra walk on a devel­oped trail that fol­lows the riv­er. Good hike for kids, with pos­si­bil­i­ty of see­ing Dall sheep, mar­mots, and cari­bou. You can do a loop walk,  ...more

The team at Alas­ka Auto Rental offers rental cars for the most unique itin­er­ary: over grav­el high­ways, through win­ter weath­er, on one-way legs, or start­ing out from unusu­al loca­tions. It’s local­ly-owned, with employ­ees who know Alaska’s roads and their chal­lenges. You’ll get help­ful trav­el advice, a can-do atti­tude, and reli­able wheels.

Season: May 14 to Sep 20 $66 to $395

This train trav­els through the forest­ed areas north of Anchor­age into the bore­al for­est, and even­tu­al­ly into the tun­dra regions fur­ther north. On a clear day the train will slow down to allow you to see beau­ti­ful vis­tas of Denali. You may also spot wildlife along the way. Day Trip from Anchor­age: Tal­keet­na Day Trip from Fair­banks: Denali Mul­ti-Day Trip from Anchor­age: Tal­keet­na, Denali Nation­al Park, and / or Fair­banks Mul­ti-Day Trip  ...more

Season: About May 13 to Sep 18 $499 3.5 hrs

For­get the trail­head on your next hike. Instead, take a short but very scenic heli­copter ride to a spe­cial wilder­ness area just out­side Denali Nation­al Park and start your trek from there. Your guide will lead your small group on a soft-adven­ture hike above the tree line, with sweep­ing views. You’ll learn about iden­ti­fy­ing ani­mal tracks and the local flo­ra and fau­na, and of course have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spot wildlife like bears, moose, and Dall  ...more

Denal­i’s glac­i­ers are high in the moun­tains of The Alas­ka Range. Here are the most impres­sive, and the flight tours to see them!

Season: May 14 to Sep 18 $101.75+ 4.5 to 12 hrs

Denali is an absolute­ly stun­ning park — full of amaz­ing wildlife and unfor­get­table scenery. And the best way to get an overview is aboard one of the park bus­es, which fea­ture a trained nat­u­ral­ist who both dri­ves and pro­vides narration.

Season: Apr 28 to Sep 23

How unique is the 49th State? For starters, it’s the only brew­pub restau­rant here that serves Alaskan yak, in the form of a yak burg­er. Or tuck into the buf­fa­lo meat­loaf, a spe­cial­ty. Don’t miss the house­made Bavar­i­an pret­zel. And Fri­days bring a spe­cial treat — a pig roast, with a pig from a local farm, roast­ed in ale and smoked over alder wood

Season: May 13 to Sep 20 $119.95+ 3.5 hrs

Dri­ve your own 4‑wheel all-ter­rain vehi­cle (ATV) on this excit­ing off-road jour­ney through the back­coun­try adja­cent to Denali Nation­al Park. Black Dia­mond puts you in con­trol: stop when­ev­er you want, take pic­tures of the spec­tac­u­lar scenery, and laugh as you expe­ri­ence Alas­ka as it was meant to be: rough and wild. Explore old coal-min­ing trails and spill out onto the Dry Creek Riv­er Bed, then head high up on Black Dia­mond Peak to take in the  ...more

Season: May 15 to Sep 20 $89.95 3.5 hrs

To get a real sense of old-time Alas­ka, climb into Black Dia­mond’s fam­i­ly-friend­ly Cov­ered Wag­on Adven­ture for a trip through time. While guides fill you in on the area’s his­to­ry and nat­ur­al trea­sures, you’ll be pulled by two draft hors­es through the Alaskan tun­dra, with the moun­tains of near­by Denali Nation­al Park hov­er­ing over­head. Hear the his­to­ry of this coal-min­ing area as you pass through the wilderness. 

Step inside and the first thing you’ll notice is the his­toric pho­tos and ani­mal pelts cov­er­ing the walls, giv­ing the place a real Alaskan feel. But this is no muse­um — you come here for great piz­za and beer, and this place deliv­ers. First off, they take piz­za seri­ous­ly: the dough is aged for 24 hours, then goes into a tra­di­tion­al oven for wood-stone hand-baking.

This inti­mate, casu­al restau­rant has some of the best-priced fine din­ing near Denali Nation­al Park. Fresh Alaskan seafood, Alas­ka-raised bison, house-made gela­to, and an excel­lent wine cel­lar are high­lights at the fam­i­ly-run restau­rant, which also has great deals on king crab. You’ll find sim­i­lar upscale din­ing at some of the area’s big lodges, but those restau­rants tend to be more expen­sive and they’re not near­ly as cozy. It’s easy…  ...more

$69.95

This show at the McKin­ley Chalet Resort tells the sto­ry of the first ascent of Mt. McKin­ley. Laugh, eat, and be mer­ry while the actors and actress­es do dou­ble-duty as your servers for an all-you-can-eat meal of salmon and ribs.

Season: Jun 04 to Sep 12 $560+ all-inclusive packages

Kan­tish­na is a his­toric gold­min­ing dis­trict in the back­coun­try of Denali Nation­al Park. Among the most remote areas of the park, you can stay in a cozy cab­in and spend your days play­ing, explor­ing and relax­ing in the wilder­ness. Kan­tish­na Road­house is the only lodge in the area with a full-ser­vice saloon.

Season: May 12 to Sep 19 $399+

Locat­ed sev­en miles from the park entrance, the com­fort­able accom­mo­da­tions at Denali Park Vil­lage are far enough from the park’s hus­tle and bus­tle that you can focus on Alaska’s nat­ur­al treasures.

Season: May 18 to Sep 15 $229+

Set on a hill, this 166-room hotel offers a bright, con­tem­po­rary ver­sion on the clas­sic rus­tic lodge style with native Alas­ka art in the lob­bies. The lodge fea­tures a vault­ed ceil­ing, com­fort­able lounges fac­ing a stone fire­place, gift shop, tour desk, guest laun­dry, cour­tesy shut­tle ser­vice and the Alpen­glow Restau­rant. The rooms fea­ture col­or­ful Alaskan décor and, at about 300 square feet, are some of the largest in the area. For even more  ...more

Season: Jun 05 to Sep 11 $640/night all-inclusive packages

This lodge, like Camp Denali, was home­stead­ed in the 1950s, but unlike the cab­in style lodg­ing, The North Face Lodge is quaint­ly dec­o­rat­ed like a casu­al coun­try inn. The lodge can hold about 36 guests, who all enjoy mul­ti-day stays com­plete with cul­tur­al his­to­ry, guid­ed hikes, field trips and evening programs.

36 miles west of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley), Mt. Rus­sell is one of the major peaks of the Alas­ka Range — and one of the most dra­mat­ic. To give a sense for its size and steep­ness, it ris­es over a ver­ti­cal mile above the Che­do­t­loth­na Glac­i­er to the north­west in less than two miles. It ris­es two miles above the Yent­na Glac­i­er to the south in only 8 miles. Over­shad­owed by its mas­sive neigh­bors, only six ascents of the peak had been record­ed by 2001.…  ...more

$199.95+

Over­look the Nenana Riv­er in rus­tic ele­gance at the McKin­ley Chalet Resort, a recent­ly remod­eled upscale hotel just one mile from the Denali Park entrance. Heavy on cedar, the lodge has sev­er­al build­ings tucked into for­est, all con­nect­ed by board­walks, and this Swiss chalet feel makes it more inti­mate than its 478 rooms sug­gest. Choose from deluxe rooms or upscale, cedar-lodge mini-sites. The upper” rooms at the McKin­ley Chalet have great views  ...more

Season: Year Round $149+

One of the rea­sons Princess has risen to be the largest cruise and tour com­pa­ny in Alas­ka is the huge invest­ment they’ve made in their lodges. The spa­cious new main build­ing of the Denali Princess Lodge is a prime exam­ple with a 50-foot mur­al of Mount McKin­ley, grand stair­cas­es, and a 65-foot fire­place. The resort offers casu­al and fine din­ing, an expan­sive deck over­look­ing the Nenana Riv­er and Denali Nation­al Park, and a long list of amenities.  ...more

Season: May 12 to Sep 20 $75

The Cab­in Nite Din­ner The­ater, per­formed out of the Denali Park Vil­lage, offers a true-to-life Gold Rush tale of Alaskan adven­tures in the ear­ly 1900s. Enjoy songs, dance, humor, and a large fam­i­ly-style meal topped off with berry cobbler.

These moun­tains lie in the cen­tral Alas­ka Range, rough­ly 120 miles east of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley). To the east of the Parks High­way and north of the Denali High­way (the grav­el high­way that con­nects Cantwell to Pax­son), they are rel­a­tive­ly inac­ces­si­ble and sel­dom climbed. In this video, we fol­low pilot Jim of Denali Air into the range and a moun­tain kind­gom equal­ly spec­tac­u­lar to Denali and the moun­tains to the west – just not as well known.   ...more

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: May 15 to Sep 15 $169

This is your chance to expe­ri­ence the spec­tac­u­lar scenery along the Denali High­way, a road recent­ly ranked #2 world­wide as a Dri­ve of a Life­time’ by Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Trav­el­er Mag­a­zine. You’ll be giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take the wheel, or if you pre­fer, just sit back and enjoy stun­ning views of the peaks and glac­i­ers of the cen­tral Alas­ka Range. There is a guide in the Jeep up front, but you can stop wher­ev­er, when­ev­er, and as often as you  ...more

Season: May 25 to Jul 25 $94.95 3.5 hrs

Imag­ine tee­ing off under the mid­night sun, sur­round­ed by the Alaskan wild. The relax­ing envi­ron­ment, fresh moun­tain air, and spec­tac­u­lar panoram­ic scenery make play­ing Black Dia­mond’s nine-hole golf course a once-in-a-life­time oppor­tu­ni­ty. This course was built in 1995, right on top of the Alaskan tun­dra. The rugged grass is chal­leng­ing, but designed for easy dri­ving (via pow­er cart) or walk­ing. Haz­ards include moose-hoof prints, tun­dra marsh,  ...more

Season: May 09 to Sep 15 $429 1.25 hrs

A lot of peo­ple swear to it: the best way to see Alas­ka is from an air­plane, and there may indeed be no bet­ter way to get close to the face of Denali. This one-of-a-kind flight­see­ing oper­a­tor makes it easy to see up close to the Great One with­out spend­ing a great deal of time.

The farm-to-table menu fea­tures fresh seafood, includ­ing weath­er­vane scal­lops and Alaskan oys­ters. And Chef Thomas Chap­man knows what to do with them. Clas­si­cal­ly French trained, he has served as chef for Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup and been a teach­ing chef for Sur La Table. His ethos is qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty, only pur­chas­ing the finest qual­i­ty seafood from small fish­ing operations.

Season: About May 13 to Sep 18 $249+ 1 to 5 hrs

Go flight­see­ing over Denali Nation­al Park in a very unique way: via heli­copter. Lift off on a 50-minute flight —land­ing the heli­copter on a glac­i­er, putting on spe­cial boots, and going for a walk on the frozen land­scape to get an up-close look at it. Or, vis­it Bus 142, made famous by adven­tur­er Christo­pher McCan­d­less. Flight­see­ing in a heli­copter is much dif­fer­ent from in a plane — learn all the ben­e­fits of this great way of check­ing out the  ...more

Stop into Fan­nie Q’s Saloon for break­fast, lunch, or din­ner. You’ll find dish­es inspired by the area served in a mod­ern saloon set­ting. And, in the evenings, enjoy live enter­tain­ment. Pop­u­lar dish­es include Bison slid­ers and a braised pork shoulder. 

Season: Jun 07 to Sep 17 $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.

$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.

Season: May 13 to Sep 18 $599 With Glacier Landing 2 hrs

Fly Denali is the only com­pa­ny north of the Alas­ka Range with a per­mit to land on glac­i­ers inside Denali Nation­al Park. The result is a world-class flight-see­ing trip, with land­ings on Denali’s glaciers.

Season: May 18 to Sep 13 $199+

The Denali Bluffs is the clos­est to park entrance. The lob­by greets you with a warm fire­place and large win­dows that look out onto the patio. If it’s a nice day, sit out­side and enjoy a meal at the Moun­taineer Grill & Bar. The 112 orig­i­nal Hill­side Rooms and the new 64 room addi­tion, the RiverView Pre­mi­um Rooms, are nes­tled in to the shoul­der of Sug­ar­loaf Moun­tain, above the Denali Nation­al Park entrance. The hotel is designed to make  ...more

On a clear day, this stretch of the park road offers unpar­al­leled views of Denali and the oth­er high granitic peaks of the cen­tral Alas­ka Range. What role do glac­i­ers play in carv­ing out the ever grow­ing shape of this moun­tain range? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.

If you choose an Around the Moun­tain Tour” (cir­cum­nav­i­gates the moun­tain), you’ll ascend over the top of the Kahilt­na Glac­i­er and on to the north side of the Alas­ka Range. Look to the right, and you’ll see the 14-mile-wide Wick­er­sham Wall. From the peak it’s 17,000 feet down, one of the great­est unob­struct­ed ver­ti­cal drops in the world. Con­sid­ered a death route, the Wick­er­sham has been climbed only a few times. A Roman­ian ski instruc­tor skied…  ...more

Teklani­ka (aka Tek”) Riv­er Camp­ground is can be found at mile 29 on the Denali Park Road. It is the sec­ond largest camp­ground in the park, offer­ing 53 sites for RVs and tents. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 14 miles

This trail starts with a climb up a fifty-foot bluff then drops back down to cross Sun­shine Creek. Dall sheep are often seen on the sur­round­ing moun­tain­sides. There is a long, beau­ti­ful, rocky canyon that is a great place to camp.

Riley Creek Camp­ground is a 147 site camp­ground locat­ed just inside the entrance to the park. 

The Sav­age Riv­er was carved out by glac­i­ers, and as a con­se­quence it is a per­fect exam­ple of a braid­ed riv­er. The flat grav­el bars of the riv­er offer a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for an easy hike, and min­i­mize the chance of sur­pris­ing a bear or oth­er wildlife.

The Nenana Riv­er, a glacial riv­er, forms the east­ern bound­ary of Denali Nation­al Park and is pos­si­bly the most pop­u­lar riv­er raft­ing des­ti­na­tion in the state. It offers a vari­ety of lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty and has a thriv­ing com­mer­cial raft­ing indus­try that oper­ates 2 hour, 4 hour and overnight trips for locals as well as out of state tourists. 

The Denali Nation­al Park Vis­i­tors Cen­ter is actu­al­ly more of a cam­pus. The cen­ter itself is the main Nation­al Park Ser­vice wel­come and infor­ma­tion cen­ter and it is sur­round­ed by oth­er facil­i­ties that include a restau­rant, bookstore/​giftshop, bag check, bus stop and the Alas­ka Rail­road depot. 

Rock Creek is the first of many water­ways that the Denali Park Road cross­es. In con­strast to many glacial fed rivers, Rock Creek is con­tained in a defined chan­nel at this point. Just upstream of the bridge is C Camp, a main­te­nance site for the area that has had ongo­ing clean-up efforts to con­tain and dis­pose of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed soil. 

Built in 1939 by the Civil­ian Con­ser­va­tion Corps, the Won­der Lake his­toric ranger sta­tion was built to serve as quar­ters at the west end of the road. Today it pri­mar­il­ly serves vis­i­tors. The Park staff use addi­tion­al struc­tures for sum­mer hous­ing. The com­pact site has indi­vid­ual ranger bunkhous­es, a head­quar­ters build­ing, a shop, a pump shed, and a few oth­er mis­cel­la­neous small struc­tures. Eight Park rangers are on site from mid-May to…  ...more

Denali Nation­al Park is full of rivers, with many of them orig­i­nat­ing from glac­i­ers. What makes these rivers spe­cial? Why are they braid­ed and what keeps them from just straight­en­ing out?

Cari­bou trails weave back and forth across the alpine slopes above Stony Hill. These trails are evi­dence of the sea­son­al migra­tion pat­terns of Denali’s cari­bou. Find out why cari­bou under­take this migra­tion, and where you can expect to find them depend­ing on the sea­son. Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.

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. 

The 20 miles before Kan­tish­na offers views of hun­dreds of small ket­tle lakes. These lakes pro­vide crit­i­cal habi­tat for moose, birds, and beavers. What are these ani­mals after and how do the lakes pro­vide? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.

The scenic, essen­tial 323-mile-long Parks High­way con­nects Anchor­age and Fair­banks, thread­ing its way past some of Alaska’s most icon­ic Alaskan areas, includ­ing Denali Nation­al Park and Mt. McKin­ley. But we’ll take you far beyond what you can see from the road. We’ll also show you some of the hid­den gems you wouldn’t find on your own, like an old trapper’s cab­in that offers a glimpse into Alaska’s past. We’ll let you in on cool trails to…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

From the trail­head at the Eiel­son Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, hike well-marked switch­backs to the top of Tho­ro­fare Ridge. At the top, you’ll enjoy views of Denali and wide-open tundra.

From mid-Sep­tem­ber to mid-May, the Murie Sci­ence Learn­ing Cen­ter serves as Denali Nation­al Park’s win­ter vis­i­tors’ cen­ter. It’s open from 9am to 4pm and pro­vides an array of park exhibits and movies. You can talk with rangers about cur­rent trail con­di­tions, bor­row a pair of snow­shoes, and get back­coun­try per­mits for overnight trips. Head out to explore trails from the cen­ter or dri­ve a cou­ple miles fur­ther up the park road to the Park…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

Take an easy hike on a well-main­tained trail from the Won­der Lake Camp­ground to the McKin­ley Riv­er. This is part of the his­toric route that climbers used to access Denali (Mt. McKin­ley). Look for wildlife along the way, espe­cial­ly when you get close to the river.

Open week­days, 6a.m. — 5p.m.

Check out our week­ly break­fast or din­ner spe­cials to plan that morn­ing or evening out. 

Veg­e­ta­tion cov­er in Denali is always chang­ing. Find out why the forests around the Tok­lat Riv­er are chang­ing, and how the Park Ser­vice uses his­toric pho­tos to doc­u­ment these changes. Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.

Cross the Tokosit­na Riv­er which marks the south­east cor­ner of Denali Nation­al Park. Look for tents or rafts next to the riv­er. While dif­fi­cult to access — even by bush plane — this area is a prime place for camp­ing, explor­ing, and to begin a raft trip down the Tokosit­na Riv­er to Tal­keet­na. Out the left win­dow, you can look south to the Peters & Dutch Hills, an active gold-min­ing area since the ear­ly 1900s. A win­ter wag­on road from Talkeetna…  ...more

You enter the Shel­don Amphithe­atre, named after a bush pilot who built a view­ing hut here on the glac­i­er before it became a nation­al park. You can stay here for $100 a night. It has a wood stove and bunks 6. If you opt for a glac­i­er land­ing, this is where you’ll like­ly land. You’ll step out of the plane and onto an ice sheet near­ly a mile thick. The scale of the Amphithe­atre is hard to fath­om. You’ll feel like you can reach and out touch the…  ...more

Beavers can often be seen here, usu­al­ly ear­ly in the morn­ing or lat­er at night. The Park Ser­vice pro­vides pic­nic tables and toi­lets on the south side of the road just after you cross the bridge. Stay as long as you like dur­ing the day, but no camp­ing is allowed in the imme­di­ate area. 

This is the most pho­tographed view of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) from the road. You’re up high, at the edge of a moun­tain pass, and there’s alpine tun­dra all around, with the road snaking towards the moun­tain in the fore­ground. And this is the first spot where you can see the whole moun­tain from base to sum­mit. On clear days, Tun­dra Wilder­ness Tours will extend their trip sev­er­al miles just to reach this spot. Stony Hill is also a great place to…  ...more

Har­ry Karstens was the first ranger of Denali Nation­al Park. He arrived in ear­ly sum­mer 1921, and estab­lished his head­quar­ters on the north­west bank of Riley Creek, an ide­al spot for mon­i­tor­ing vis­i­tors using the trail lead­ing into the park. In 1925, the head­quar­ters moved to it’s cur­rent loca­tion at mile 3.4 of the Denali Park Road. 

Sanc­tu­ary Camp­ground is a 7 site camp­ground locat­ed at Mile 23 on the Park Road. It is open only to tent campers. 

Denali Ranger Kris Fis­ter, a 30-year vet­er­an of the Nation­al Park Ser­vice, and a Camp Denali Lodge nat­u­ral­ist share some fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries and things to look for along the Denali Park Road. 

An iron bridge cross­es Moose Creek here. If you take a moment to observe the creek you’ll notice that the rush­ing waters are clear and full of grayling, quite the oppo­site of glacial fed water­ways that appear milky due to the high sed­i­ment content.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

Hike 2 miles roundtrip from the Eiel­son Vis­i­tor Cen­ter to the Gorge Creek and Tho­ro­fare Riv­er Bars. Beyond the end of the trail, you can con­tin­ue off-trail and reach back­coun­try camp­ing units with­in the park.

What you’re able to see of the Muldrow Glac­i­er from the park road is actu­al­ly just the tip of a 32 mile long riv­er of frozen ice. The Muldrow Glac­i­er is the park’s longest and it is a great exam­ple of the pow­er these behe­moth ice mass­es have on the land­scape. Much of the low­er reach­es of the ice are cov­ered in dirt and rocks that have been scoured off of the neigh­bor­ing moun­tains on the slow jour­ney from Denal­i’s (Mt. McKin­ley’s) flank.…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

Pick up the trail right after you cross over Tat­ter Creek. Fol­low Tat­tler Creek upstream for 14 mile to a steep ravine that comes in from the left. Fol­low this ravine up until you reach a ridge that over­looks the Sable Pass restrict­ed area. If you only plan to spend time on the ridge with­out going far­ther afield you may want to stock up on water in the ravine because there are no sources on the ridge­line. From the ridge you can choose to…  ...more

Men­tion Healy and inevitably the con­ver­sa­tion veers toward the Usi­bel­li Coal Mine. It lies just a few miles east of the high­way and employs near­ly 100 peo­ple year-round. They send their coal to pow­er plants around Alas­ka and export it to Pacif­ic Rim coun­tries. Healy school chil­dren nick­named the mine’s dragline Ace-in-the-Hole.” The dragline is the largest mobile land machine in Alas­ka and moves mas­sive amounts of dirt.

Mile 43 Denali Park Rd, small cab­in is vis­i­ble down the embank­ment on the south side of the road

It’s a 5‑hour dri­ve up to the park from Anchor­age, and you’ll find a num­ber of scenic high­lights and activ­i­ties along the way

Over­look­ing the Nenana Riv­er and Nenana Canyon, this restau­rant offers a menu with dry-aged steaks, chops and Alas­ka seafood: feast on your favorite cooked-to-per­fec­tion steak or try some of the local­ly-sourced Alas­ka seafood, includ­ing sus­tain­able jig-caught Alas­ka rock­fish. Pair your din­ner with a local craft beer, some­thing from the exten­sive wine list, or one of the hand­craft­ed sig­na­ture martinis.

The Chulit­na Riv­er flows to the south out of a huge val­ley from Broad Pass, one of only two breaks in the Alas­ka Range Moun­tains, where the high­way, the train, the geese, and the riv­er, all pass on their way to Cook Inlet. It offers a chance for a float of 75 miles and can take as lit­tle as 3 days in kayaks but can be a nice 4 or 5‑day trip. Canoes and kayaks are fun on the upper but tip­py on the low­er sec­tion. There are three forks of the…  ...more

Won­der Lake is a some­what unlike­ly lake. Learn how the lake was formed, and what makes it so unique.

The fall moose rut is an unfor­get­table part of the inte­ri­or Alas­ka fall. In Denali, the Eiel­son vis­i­tor cen­ter gives vis­i­tors a year round win­dow into this dra­mat­ic event through the dis­play of two sets of inter­locked moose antlers. How did these antlers become locked, and what like­ly hap­pened to the two unlucky bull moose? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.   ...more

At the Wilder­ness Access Cen­ter, you can pur­chase bus tick­ets and all park shut­tle bus­es depart from this build­ing. This is also the place to reserve a spot in the var­i­ous park camp­grounds. Addi­tion­al­ly, inside you will also find a gift shop, cof­fee stand, and an infor­ma­tion desk. 

Difficulty: Easy

A 0.3 mile loop depart­ing from the Eiel­son Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Denali Nation­al Park allows vis­i­tors to explore the alpine tundra.

You enter the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glac­i­er — the world’s deep­est. The ice is 3700 feet deep, some of it more than a thou­sand years old. The sur­round­ing walls soar 4000 – 5000 feet above. Were the ice to melt tomor­row, you would wit­ness a spec­ta­cle twice as awe­some as the Grand Canyon — a gorge a mile wide and near­ly two miles high. Watch for climb­ing camps…These may be the world’s most impres­sive gran­ite mono­liths. You’ll stare in dis­be­lief at…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This infor­mal hik­ing area begins at the Prim­rose rest area and heads up a gen­tle ridge until you reach the bench, which pro­vides panoram­ic views of the park. Wild­flow­ers are abun­dant in this area and usu­al­ly peak between July 20 and August 10.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 13 miles

Hik­ers will descend bluffs and cross Inter­mit­tent Creek, Glac­i­er Creek and Crys­tal Creek. There are fresh­wa­ter streams for drink­ing water but boil all of it. There are places to camp that require an overnight per­mit. The views are spectacular. 

Difficulty: Difficult

Denali is one of the cold­est moun­tains in the world. Tem­per­a­tures on the moun­tain can be as low as neg­a­tive 40 degrees with winds of 80 to 100 miles per hour in the sum­mer. The West But­tress, South Face and Muldrow Glac­i­er routes are the most pop­u­lar. You should trav­el in groups of four or greater and car­ry pro­vi­sions for 2 weeks longer than you plan on being there. Each per­son going should be a high­ly skilled climber in their own right. The…  ...more

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: Difficult Distance: 6 miles

The first mile of this trail, which begins near the new Murie Sci­ence and Learn­ing Cen­ter, is mod­er­ate­ly steep, hik­ing through the for­est. The for­est even­tu­al­ly gives way to tun­dra. Trees turn to shrubs, and the land­scape opens wide. The last 1.5 miles are even steep­er. Your reward, how­ev­er, is sweep­ing views of the Denali Nation­al Park entrance area, the Nenana Riv­er Val­ley, Healy Ridge, and near­by alpine ridges. Those who want to climb to the  ...more

In Sum­mer (mid-May to mid-Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. Depot closed in winter.

You’ll tra­verse the spine of the north side of the Alas­ka Range for about 15 min­utes, then fly through a moun­tain pass known as the Tralieka Col, back to the south side of the range. You’ll pass by the fore­bod­ing East Face of Denali (its only major unclimbed face) and descend down the West Fork of the Ruth Glac­i­er. Look for pyra­mid-shaped Mt. Hunt­ing­ton off the right win­dow, thought by many to be the most pic­turesque peak in North America.…  ...more

There is gold in the hills above the his­toric set­tle­ment of Kan­tish­na. A com­par­a­tive­ly small gold rush in this part of Alas­ka indi­rect­ly fore­tells the estab­lish­ment of the orig­i­nal Mt. McKin­ley Nation­al Park. How did min­ing activ­i­ty near­ly push wildlife pop­u­la­tions to the brink? Audio tour by Camp Denali Wilder­ness Lodge.

Fly­ing down the medi­al moraine of the Ruth Glac­i­er is mes­mer­iz­ing. This 25 – 50 foot high ridge of rock debris looks like an exca­va­tion pit that extends for miles down the cen­ter of the glac­i­er. Keep on the look­out for deep blue pools of ice melt. Look for lat­er­al moraines on the sides of the glac­i­er and the ter­mi­nal moraine at the toe of the glac­i­er… You’ll know the ter­mi­nus of the Ruth when you see it: the con­tor­tions of earth and ice resemble…  ...more

Denali Nation­al Park’s pop­u­la­tion swells each spring with an influx of sea­son­al employ­ees. They work for the park ser­vice as rangers, vis­i­tor cen­ter and muse­um staff, groundskeep­ers, and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als, as well as in pri­vate tourism-relat­ed busi­ness­es. But a hand­ful live here year-round and they see a dif­fer­ent side of Denali in when most of the park’s vis­i­tors have gone. Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief the park does­n’t com­plete­ly shut down…  ...more

Spindly spruce trees lean this way and that, look­ing as if they’re drunk. The actu­al cause of this odd align­ment has to do with their shal­low root sys­tems, which get read­just­ed by the near­ly con­tin­u­ous expan­sion and con­trac­tion of per­mafrost under the tun­dra sur­face. Per­mafrost is a lay­er of frozen ground, some­times more than 6 feet thick, that nev­er thaws. With­out it, much of the tun­dra would be com­plete­ly impassable. 

The Sav­age Riv­er camp­ground is laid out in a patch of trees that are just below the tree­line. Weath­er depen­dant, you can see Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) far off in the distance. 

This high-ener­gy restau­rant at the Denali Princess Wilder­ness Lodge offers some pret­ty laid-back pur­suits. Sit out on the deck and watch rafters float down the Nenana Riv­er while sip­ping Denali Red, a beer brewed specif­i­cal­ly for Princess by Alas­ka Brew­ing Com­pa­ny. Or dig into a gourmet burg­er while soak­ing up late-after­noon sun­shine and views of the Nation­al Park and Healy Moun­tains. Of course, the inside of the restau­rant is pret­ty nice…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

You can begin hik­ing at Mile 231 Parks High­way, on the west side of the road, where there is a small pull­out for park­ing. The trail climbs steeply, and cross­es the Alas­ka Rail­road tracks. Then, the trail mod­er­ates and emerges from the for­est to a grand view of the Nenana Riv­er and the Alas­ka Range look­ing south toward Windy Pass. From there the trail loops around the ridge and fol­lows a series of three scenic lakes. Even­tu­al­ly, the park plans  ...more

It isn’t until you actu­al­ly dri­ve past the head­quar­ters area that you will begin to enter the wilder­ness for which you have real­ly come. Dur­ing the win­ter months, the road is closed at this point. Only non-motor­ized trav­el­ers, such as mush­ers and skiers can go fur­ther. This is taiga for­est, filled with white spruce and black spruce, inter­spersed here and there with quak­ing aspen, paper birch, bal­sam poplar and tama­rack. This is moose habitat…  ...more

Last view of Denali dur­ing first few miles of Denali Park Road

Here is the junc­tion of the Parks and the Denali High­way. The Denali High­way is approx­i­mate­ly 135 miles long stretch­ing from Pax­son to Cantwell, con­nect­ing the Richard­son and Parks high­ways. Before the Parks High­way was com­plet­ed in the ear­ly 1970s, the Denali High­way was the only road access to Denali Nation­al Park. 

Difficulty: Easy

Only 33 miles from the sum­mit of Denali, and at an ele­va­tion of 3300’, Eiel­son offers some of the most spec­tac­u­lar views of Denali (for­mer­ly Mt McKin­ley). There are many activ­i­ties you can do here, includ­ing ranger-guid­ed hikes up to near­by Tho­ro­fare Pass and self-guid­ed expi­ra­tion of the high-alpine tun­dra environment.

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.

Once you leave the Won­der Lake camp­ground, you’ll pass the apt­ly named Reflec­tion Pond as the road begins its descent towards the north. From here you can get fan­tas­tic pho­tos of both Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) and Forak­er reflect­ing off the sur­face of the pond, espe­cial­ly ear­ly and late in the day when the water is the smoothest. 

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. 

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.

Ever been curi­ous to expe­ri­ence life as a home­stead­er? You’ll get a taste of it at this lodge set on 14 acres south of Denali Nation­al Park. Choose from hand­craft­ed lodge rooms or indi­vid­ual cabins.

Difficulty: Easy

Head either direc­tion on the Teklani­ka Riverbed. The riv­er bar is real­ly wide in this area so the going is gen­er­al­ly easy, even though you’re still below tree-line. Choose to go as far afield as you like. There are numer­ous route options.

This north­ern­most sec­tion of the Parks High­way, paved and open all year, takes you through small towns and stretch­es of wilderness.

The Kahilt­na Glac­i­er is the longest in the Alas­ka Range — a 45-mile long riv­er of ice! You’ll cross it 35 miles up it, at an ele­va­tion of 5500 feet above sea lev­el. See any dark specs on the sur­face of the glac­i­er? Those are the climbers and tents of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) base­camp! Most climb­ing expe­di­tions begin here. A base camp man­ag­er coor­di­nates com­mu­ni­ca­tions between climbers and air taxis. Dur­ing the busy climb­ing sea­son, there can be…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

If you’re head­ed to the dog demon­stra­tion at the ken­nels, or if you just want to stretch your legs, try walk­ing this wide, com­fort­able trail through the for­est, up to head­quar­ters from the Vis­i­tor Access Cen­ter. It basi­cal­ly fol­lows the road, occa­sion­al­ly wan­der­ing out of sight of the traf­fic. Length: 1.8 miles Ele­va­tion: 300 ft. Time: 45 – 1 hr. one way 

In a strip of restau­rants pump­ing out good meals, 229 Parks stands alone as cre­at­ing fine din­ing-qual­i­ty meals using the fresh­est, high­est qual­i­ty ingre­di­ents. They are com­mit­ted to qual­i­ty, and the menu changes often to reflect what is fresh or in sea­son. That could be berries, mush­rooms, fish or greens. Their sal­ads are excel­lent, as are the entrees. If you order small plates, you’ll get to sam­ple more of the menu! They also do pas­tries and  ...more

This sec­tioned bridge sits at an ele­va­tion of 2,655 feet. Park at the rest stop a few hun­dred meters before the east edge of the bridge for great views of the struc­ture and the sur­round­ing area.

The Don Shel­don Moun­tain House may be the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar­ly sit­u­at­ed cab­in. Perched on a 4.9 acre rock and ice cov­ered out­crop locat­ed at the 5,800 foot lev­el, in the mid­dle of the Don Shel­don Amphithe­ater just above the Ruth Gorge, it is sur­round­ed on all sides by tow­er­ing gran­ite walls and glac­i­ers flow­ing off the flanks of Denali, less than 10 miles away. It’s used pri­mar­i­ly from March through Octo­ber by pho­tog­ra­phers, skiiers,  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 32 miles Elevation Gain: 4200 feet

This is an unmarked, unmain­tained trail and can be dif­fi­cult to fol­low, but is a good exam­ple of the real out­doors in Denali Nation­al Park.

Although most view­points along the Park Road can only be accessed by pri­vate tour bus­es or park shut­tle bus­es, you can dri­ve to this view­point (the first 15 miles are open to pri­vate vehi­cles). The dense spruce for­est opens up here, giv­ing you the first view of Denali, as it is called in the native Athabaskan lan­guage (for­mer­ly Mt. McKin­ley). The moun­tain is rough­ly 72 miles away and you’re only see­ing the top 8,000 feet or so. Still, it’s a  ...more

A great place to catch a glimpse of Dall Sheep, Igloo Moun­tain is also where the first dinosaur tracks in the park were dis­cov­ered. You can see them your­self, if you go on one of the many easy day hikes that start here.

Expe­ri­ence the back­coun­try of Denali Nation­al Park in a way few oth­ers do. You’ll board a bus from the Vis­i­tor Cen­ter and dis­em­bark just before Sable Pass and then immerse your­self in the wild Alas­ka land­scape. Rec­om­mend­ed for inter­me­di­ate back­pack­ers and begin­ner packrafters.

The Alas­ka Rail­road was respon­si­ble for open­ing this nation­al park to the pub­lic since it pro­vid­ed the only access to the park for many years. The Rail­road owned and oper­at­ed the McKin­ley Park Hotel from its ear­ly begin­nings and even­tu­al­ly turned over to the Nation­al Park Ser­vice for oper­a­tions. After a fire destroyed the hotel, rail sleep­er cars pro­vid­ed a nov­el lodg­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for visitors.

Only a few miles from the end of the Denali Park Road (85 miles in, about 5 hours by bus), this is the clas­sic Denali view from the north side, made famous by Ansel Adams’ pho­tographs. 25 sites.

Poly­chrome Pass gets it’s name from the col­or­ful vol­canic rocks that you can see from the over­look, but the name could also be applied to the col­or­ful veg­e­ta­tion, streams, moun­tains and glac­i­ers that make this spot unique. This high over­look is a great spot to watch bears, moose and cari­bou from far enough away that you won’t risk dis­turb­ing them.

Difficulty: Moderate

If you’ve ven­tured this far into the park, why stop here? In this area of the park you are encour­aged to use old min­ing roads and estab­lished trails to get around. Sky­line Dri­ve takes you up into the Kan­tish­na Hills, pro­vid­ing access to Quigley Ridge and the Wick­er­sham Dome. You will be pass­ing through chunks of pri­vate prop­er­ty that were grand­fa­thered into the park so it is best if you don’t leave the road until you are on the ridge. Once you…  ...more

Not far from the Tok­lat Riv­er Bridge you’ll find your­self at the top of High­way Pass, the high­est point on the park road at 3,980 feet. The vis­tas are expan­sive and wildlife view­ing can be great. 

Tat­tler Creek is named for the Wan­der­ing Tat­tler, a large shore­bird that you may be lucky enough to spot. The first Wan­der­ing Tat­tler nest known to sci­ence was found at Denali Nation­al Park. The first nests of the Arc­tic War­bler and Surf­bird were also found here.

The Alas­ka Rail­road offers scenery, wildlife, and his­to­ry; get our audio guide to all the high­lights along its route.

Difficulty: Easy

Orig­i­nal­ly con­struct­ed by the Alas­ka Road Com­mis­sion in 1924 – 1925, the Sav­age cab­in and inter­pre­tive trails are now used as part of liv­ing his­to­ry pre­sen­ta­tions in the sum­mer months. Dur­ing the win­ter the cab­in become strict­ly util­i­tar­i­an by pro­vid­ing shel­ter for patrols.

Blue­ber­ries and moun­tain views dom­i­nate Broad Pass. Watch for moose and cari­bou, too. And berry pick­ers in the fall. This is the high­est point on the Parks Highway.

Both peaks of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) are vis­i­ble to south­west, framed by Dou­ble Moun­tain and Sable Moun­tain. At this point on the dri­ve, taiga dis­ap­pears into tun­dra and waist-high thick­ets of wil­low and birch. That in turn stretch­es into alpine tun­dra that includes lichens and mosses. 

This bridge is the con­nec­tion between south­cen­tral Alas­ka and the inte­ri­or of the Ter­ri­to­ry. The bridge rep­re­sents an engi­neer­ing mar­vel for the day and age it was con­struct­ed, and is as strong today as when it was con­struct­ed near­ly a cen­tu­ry ago.

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Most Notable Bear Viewing Spots

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

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.

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.

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.

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