Best Things to Do In Denali State Park

View of Denali from the Kesugi Ridge Trail

View of Denali from the Kesugi Ridge Trail

1. Go for a Hike

With a whopping 300,000-plus acres, Denali State Park offers every kind of landscape and terrain, from gentle streams to high alpine peaks, along with spectacular views of Denali and tons of wildlife. Going on a guided hiking tour helps steer you straight to the highlights; choose from easy 2-hour hikes to multi-day adventures in the backcountry.

You can also opt to set out for a hike on your own. Even a short hike here—like the Little Coal Creek Trail—serves up amazing views of Denali and the snow-capped peaks of the Alaska Range.

2. Stay at a Lodge

Book a lodge room inside Denali State Park and awe-inspiring Denali will practically be at your doorstep. Enjoy the luxurious accommodations at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge on the banks of the Chulitna River, which boasts a grand lobby and outdoor hot tub, all with Denali views. And take advantage of the lodge’s thrilling excursions, like horseback riding, jetboating, rafting, and more.

Enjoy a comfortable stay at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Enjoy a comfortable stay at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

The small pioneer town of Talkeetna exudes Alaskan charm

The small pioneer town of Talkeetna exudes Alaskan charm

3. Go Camping

Get the full flavor of Denali State Park’s magnificent wilderness. Go camping with a tent or RV in one of the park’s several stunning campgrounds and you’ll wake up surrounded by the sights and sounds of natural Alaska—including a stellar view of Denali.

4. Visit Talkeetna

The small pioneer town of Talkeetna exudes Alaskan charm and is a favorite for locals and visitors alike; it also makes for the perfect stop if you’re headed south after visiting the park. Even from town you can take in great mountain views; you can also book exciting excursions.

Denali State Park Day Tours & Attractions View All

Season: Memorial Weekend - Labor Day Weekend Call for Rental Rates 2+ hrs

This tour oper­a­tor, based in Tal­keet­na and Denali State Park, offers guid­ed kayak­ing tours and kayak, canoe and stand up pad­dle board rentals at X Lake in Tal­keet­na Lakes Park and at Byers Lake in Denali State Park. Denali South­side also offers trail­head shut­tle ser­vice along the 25 miles of hik­ing trails of Kesu­gi Ridge.

Season: Year Round $99+ 2 hrs - Multi-Day

Get out there on one or more of these super-acces­si­ble trips, which range from easy nature walks to stren­u­ous alpine mul­ti-day treks. You’ll not only get a healthy dose of scenery, you’ll also exer­cise your body, mind, and soul. In win­ter, mar­vel at frozen water­falls, snow­shoe treks and even heli-snowshoeing!

Season: May 20 - Sept 15 $99+ 2 hr - Multi-Day

Tal­keet­na Riv­er Guides has offered expert­ly guid­ed raft­ing day trips for over 20 years. Float through the remote wilder­ness of Denali State Park, just a stone’s throw away from Denali Nation­al Park’s wild south side. Choose the two-hour Tal­keet­na Riv­er Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Float Trip, the four-hour Chulti­na Riv­er Raft Tour, or an overnight or mul­ti-day excursion.

Season: June – October Custom, call or email to discuss your trip

Every­one from begin­ners to experts can book a cus­tom, mul­ti-day pho­tog­ra­phy trip in Alas­ka. As a long­time Alaskan, Michael knows the best spots to go. And he can care­ful­ly craft cus­tom trips to take you to the most mag­i­cal areas. His spe­cial­ty is land­scape, wildlife and adven­ture-trav­el based trips around South­cen­tral Alas­ka — places like Chugach and Denali State parks, and the region’s acces­si­ble glaciers.

Season: July 2 - Sep 10 $1,295 per person 4 days

Get a unique view of the Alaskan wilder­ness on a four- or sev­en-day back­pack­ing trip through the back­coun­try. You’ll be trekking on Kesu­gi Ridge in Denali State Park, with mag­nif­i­cent views of Mt. McKin­ley and of course plen­ty of wildlife to spot along the way. Your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide will be with you the whole way, cook­ing up great meals at your camp­sites. You should be fit enough to car­ry a pack up mod­er­ate hills, though you’ll  ...more

Season: Year Round
Inqure for rates
Land Package Type: Photography Tours

Award-win­ning Alas­ka-based pho­tog­ra­ph­er Jeff Schultz can take you to stun­ning Alas­ka loca­tions to cre­ate your dream images of Alaskan land­scapes & wildlife. Whether you want to make pho­tos in clas­sic Alas­ka loca­tions or in places that the aver­age trav­el­er will nev­er see, based on decades of liv­ing, trav­el­ing and pho­tograph­ing all over Alas­ka, Jeff can cre­ate a cus­tom pho­to trip that will meet all your wants and desires.

Season: May 23 - Sep 14 $75+ 2.5 to 4.5 hrs

Explore Alas­ka on foot — take a scenic day hike into the South Denali area. Choose one of 3 great hikes; from an easy, 2‑mile stroll to a mod­er­ate­ly stren­u­ous 5½-hour hike. You’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views and see plen­ty of wildlife as you trek with your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide. Depend­ing on the hike you may pass pris­tine lakes, see an old pioneer’s cab­in, catch a glimpse of Mt. McKin­ley, and even have the chance to spot for­ag­ing bears. These  ...more

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Denali State Park Parks & Trails View All

Difficulty: Difficult

Dur­ing peri­ods of clear weath­er, this route through Denali State Park offers sim­i­lar ter­rain and scenery to Denali Nation­al Park — includ­ing unpar­al­leled views of Denali — with­out the cum­ber­some per­mit­ting process. This trail sys­tem offers many options for start­ing and end­ing points, as there are four trail­heads along its length. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 7 miles Elevation Gain: 1100 feet

The Cur­ry Ridge Trail is a new­ly con­struct­ed trail (2016) that departs from the Kesu­gi K’en Camp­ground and climbs mod­er­ate­ly (1100 ft in about 3.5 miles) up Cur­ry Ridge. On a clear day, hik­ers are reward­ed with stun­ning views of Mt. Denali in the distance.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

This is one of four trails that lead to the high Kesu­gi Ridge along the Parks High­way about an hour north of Tal­keet­na. The trail begins in a forest­ed area and ends up above the tree line look­ing down on muli­ple drainages. The view at the top is won­der­ful, so bring a cam­era! It takes about 2 hours on aver­age to get above treeline. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

This trail is the north­ern­most trail that pro­vides access to Kesu­gi Ridge. On a clear day, Lit­tle Coal Creek Trail takes you to amaz­ing views of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley). It also gives you those views in the short­est amount of time, about 1.5 hours, of any of the access trails to Kesu­gi Ridge.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 4 miles

This is the south­ern­most trail that leads to Kesu­gi Ridge. On aver­age, it takes a hik­er 4 hours to get above the tree­line. This trail is often closed due to flood­ing as well as bear activ­i­ty for the safe­ty of its hik­ers. Please check with Alaska’s Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources to make sure that the trail is open to hik­ers before start­ing this trip.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 5 miles

This is one of four trails that lead to Kesu­gi Ridge. From the Denali State Park camp­ground at Byers Lake, this gen­tle stroll is the per­fect way to spend a few hours. Wan­der through spruce and birch trees on the north side of the lake and enjoy big views of the Alas­ka Range and Denali (for­mer­ly Mt. McKin­ley) from the east side. 

Difficulty: Easy

This trail fol­lows Trou­ble­some Creek .3 miles down to where it enters the broad, glacial grav­el bar of the Chuli­tan Riv­er. Mar­vel at the Ent-like Grandad­dy Cot­ton­wood, just five min­utes down the trail. The trail’s end has been swept away by floods, so it can be con­fus­ing, but the adven­tur­ous can keep going onto the Chulit­na’s grav­el bar to look for wildlife, tracks, or views of Denali. The large-leaved plants along the trail are Cow Parsnip and  ...more

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