Best Things to Do in Denali National Park

Open wilderness in Denali National Park with mountains in the background

Get up close with the beauty of Denali National Park on a park tour. Photo by Bob Kaufman.

1. Take a Park Tour

Hop on the park bus for an exciting tour of Denali National Park, looking for wildlife and getting close to Denali mountain. This is your ticket to explore the heart of the park, as private cars aren’t allowed past Mile 15 of the Park Road; plus, the bus offers narration from a trained naturalist. Other options are taking a van tour (with fewer passengers), flying in one way, or renting a bike and see the park on two wheels!

2. See the Park from Above

Get a unique perspective on the park’s majesty by soaring high above it on a flightseeing tour; you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of wildlife and see mountain peaks up close. Go by plane to cover more territory; or travel by helicopter, where you’ll have the option of landing on a glacier or hiking along the alpine tundra. Another fun way to see the park from off the ground: Zoom along on a zipline tour!

A flightseeing plane flies past snow capped Mt. Denali

Denali Air soars in front of the face of Mt. Denali.

A group of people hike across the tundra in Denali National Park

Traverse Alaska will teach you how to navigate in Denali’s backcountry.

3. Hike the Park

With more than 6 million acres in Denali National Park and Preserve, it’s hard for hikers to know where to begin. Fortunately, a wealth of guided hiking tours can help you navigate it, whether you’re looking for a day hike, a multi-day trip, or a small-group customized trip. You also have the option to hike on your own, either on maintained trails near the park entrance or in Denali’s backcountry.

4. Go Off-Roading

Get off the beaten path and explore by ATV or Jeep. Either way, you’ll experience the thrill of splashing through water as you cruise across the Alaskan tundra heading deep into the Alaskan backcountry. On Jeep tours, you can decide to relax and take in the views (and look for wildlife) as a passenger, or grab the wheel yourself and pilot your vehicle. You can also rent a Jeep or ATV and explore the area on your own!

Three people smiling as they splash through the mud on an ATV

Guests splash through the mud with Denali ATV Adventures.

A group of people float down a choppy river on a raft

Navigate exciting rapids with Denali Raft Adventures

5. Get Out on the River

Rafting the Nenana River is an exciting way to get away from noisy roads and take in the serenity of the Alaskan wilderness. Choose a mild float trip, where you can kick back and gaze up at snow-capped peaks. Or a opt for a heart-pounding journey through rushing rapids with names like Coffee Grinder and Ice Worm. You'll also have the option to choose a raft where everyone gets a paddle and contributes to the ride, or a fully guided trip where just the guide navigates the boat. Either way, you’ll feel the wind in your hair as you cruise down glacial rivers and look for wildlife along the riverbanks.

A rafting tour is one of the easiest activities to fit into your schedule. Shorter 2-hour tours have departures as early as 7:30am and as late as 6:30pm during the middle of summer. You can also opt for a full-day trip complete with a picnic lunch on the riverbank. Get even more hands on with a packrafting adventure that includes a hike, and paddling your own packraft through the Denali area backcountry.

The cast of Cabin Nite Dinner Theater pose in costume

The Cast of the Cabin Nite Dinner Theater will educate and entertain!

6. Education & Entertainment

Learn all about the park and get the inside scoop from the rangers who work here by stopping by one of the park’s many information centers, including the Denali Visitor Center.

Another fun option is to spend an evening experiencing dinner theater, Alaska-style: In addition to a delicious, family-style meal, you’ll learn about historic events like the Gold Rush and the first ascent of Denali.

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Denali National Park

Day Tours & Excursions View All

Season: May 21 to Sep 07 $139 3 hrs

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.

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 10 to Sep 19 $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. 

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

Season: May 21 to Sep 07 $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 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 13 to Sep 14 $99

Re-open­ing in 2022. Please vis­it our web­site for oth­er activ­i­ties avail­able dur­ing your stay. 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  ...more

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $169 Jeep Tour | $199+ Jeep Rentals 4-8 hrs

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: About May 13 to Sep 18 $499 3.5 hrs hiking | 5 hrs total

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

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: 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 10 to Sep 19 $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

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

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 15 to Sep 15 $200+ 2+ hrs

ATV rentals for 2, 4, 8, or even a full 24 hours to explore many of the fun trails just out­side of Denali Nation­al Park on your own. Unguid­ed doesn’t mean unaid­ed: Denali Toy Rentals will out­fit you with a hel­met, gog­gles, and trail map, as well as lots of insid­er tips and sug­ges­tions on where to go, cus­tomized to your interests.

Season: Oct - April 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 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.

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.

Season: May 29 to Sep 12 $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: Mid-May to Mid-Sep $59 1.5 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: May 10 to Sep 19 $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

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Parks & Trails View All

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 7 miles Elevation Gain: 4000 feet

This hike intro­duces you to the best that Denali has to offer. The Bison Gulch trail is all about stun­ning views of steep riv­er canyons, a sol­id, well-bro­ken trail through alpine tun­dra, and an excit­ing sum­mit scram­ble for those that reach it. For those with less time, this hike is favored for its quick access to high alpine views direct­ly off of the Parks High­way. No need to go all the way to the sum­mit if you haven’t the time or moti­va­tion; the  ...more

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

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

A road­side hike that gains quick ele­va­tion and leads to soar­ing views? Count me in. A lit­tle trav­eled creek that rush­es into one of the wildest white­wa­ter rivers in Alas­ka? Hmm. Yes, please. A trail all to your­self just a few min­utes from Denali’s busy front coun­try area? Now you’re talk­ing. Drag­on­fly Creek has all this and more, and you’ll only just be get­ting your feet wet.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 4 miles Elevation Gain: 2700 feet

Sug­ar­loaf offers fun, steep, and chal­leng­ing ridge hik­ing above the hotels and restau­rants of the com­mer­cial area North of Denali Nation­al Park. It’s a great place to scram­ble freely in this region’s semi-arid alpine zone or to enjoy a long mid­night sun­set. The broad, west fac­ing peak of Sug­ar­loaf Moun­tain is a reward­ing sum­mit, and once you’ve climbed the steep­est trail sec­tion at the begin­ning you’ll like­ly have the rest of trail to yourself,  ...more

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