Best Things to Do in Denali National Park
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!
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!
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.
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.
Denali National Park
Day Tours & Excursions View All
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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..
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
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
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.
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 (4−5 hrs), Tundra Wilderness Tour (7−8 hrs), The Eielson Excursion (8−9 hrs) or The Kantishna Experience (11−12 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 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
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.
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
Parks & Trails View All
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
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
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
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
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.