Denali National Park and Preserve surrounds Mt. McKinley (the largest mountain in North America) with over 5 million acres of wilderness. The Park is a natural home for dozens of wildlife species including Dall Sheep, Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Wolf, Fox, Beaver, Moose, and Caribou.
The Park is located 120 miles south of Fairbanks and 240 miles north of Anchorage on the George Parks Highway. There are very few towns or facilities between these two major cities, and therefore, the Park area is somewhat isolated.
Lodges, restaurants, gift shops, gas stations, convenience stores, and various other visitor-related services can be found spread out within a few miles of the Park entrance road. But with 5,000 visitors and 1,000 employees in the Park area each day, accommodations can be scarce so it's best to make reservations early.
Local activities include hiking and camping in and around the Park, wildlife viewing, flight-seeing, jet boating, fishing, golfing, photography, river rafting, and the Park Service shuttle bus tours.
National Park and Preserve Web Site has all the latest information on in-park happenings.
Temperatures can range from the mid 20's in early May and September to 85 degrees in July. Normal day time temperatures are in the high 60's with nights cooling off to between 40 and 50 degrees. It can rain a fair amount, and you may need to adjust clothing several times a day. Layered clothing is recommended. It will be daylight 24 hours a day throughout May, June, and the first 1/2 of July. By early September it gets dark by 8PM with sunrise around 6AM.
Medical care is available at the Healy Clinic 10 miles to the North. Emergency care is provided in Fairbanks via ambulance or Air Evac in extreme instances. There are many doctors and a hospital in Fairbanks.
Shuttle Buses (VTS): The shuttle bus system (green buses) is designed to provide access to visitors wishing to view remote areas of the park, access a campground or disembark and go for a hike.
Shuttle buses provide access to Toklat (6 hrs round trip), Fish Creek Turnaround (8 hrs. round trip), Wonder Lake (11 hrs round trip), and Kantishna (12 hrs roundtrip). Trips on the shuttle bus are informal. The drivers will assist you in spotting wildlife along the road and answer questions. It is important to bring along beverages and food, as none will be available once your trip begins.
Tour Buses: Two types of tours (tan buses) are available for those visitors desiring a formal, narrated interpretive tour of the park.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour (TWT) is a 6-8 hour, narrated interpretive experience. Usually departing from area hotels on the east end, the tour may turn around at Toklat (Mile 53). A box lunch, hot beverages, and tour booklet are provided. During the shoulder seasons, a shortened version of the TWT to Teklanika (Mile 30) is offered.
The Denali Natural History Tour (DNHT) is a 4.5 to 5 hours, fully narrated tour that departs from the east end of the park and area hotels, and travels to Primrose Ridge (Mile 17). This tour makes several stops for cultural and interpretive programs. A snack, beverages, and a tour booklet are included in this tour.
Rest Stops: Spaced along the park road at approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hour intervals.
Entrance Area: The Riley Creek Loop bus provides free service running every 1/2 hour between the following stops: Riley Creek Campground, Riley Creek Mercantile, Wilderness Access Center, front country trail heads, the Murie Science and Learning Center, and the Denali Visitor Center complex. Check bus stops for departure times.
The Savage River Shuttle provides free service from the Wilderness Access Center to the Savage River Bridge (Mile 15) from 9am to 9pm during the summer. Check at the Wilderness Access Center for schedule and pickup locations. Free service is also provided from the Denali Visitor Center Bus Stop to the sled dog demonstrations at park headquarters. Be ready to board 40 minutes prior to scheduled demonstration time.
For camping outside the Park check out McKinley RV and Campground. They have wooded campsites with fire pits and they offer a free shuttle to the Park's Visitor Center.
There are six campgrounds within Denali National Park & Preserve. Of these, the four largest are available for advance reservations: Riley Creek, Savage River, Teklanika, and Wonder Lake; Sanctuary and Igloo are only available on a walk-in basis at the Wilderness Access Center, two days in advance.
Quiet Hours: 10pm to 6am. Generators may only be operated from 8am to 10am and from 4pm to 8pm.
TO MAKE RESERVATIONS: Fax, mail-in, and online service begin on around Dec. 1 each year. Fax forms are available on the NPS website. A maximum of 8 seats may be requested per reservation, and individual names and ages are required as age discounts may apply. Include alternate dates and times when possible.
A fax help line is available M-F, 8am to 12pm, from Dec. 1, through Feb. 14: 800-622-7275.
Reservation phone lines open on Feb. 15: 800-622-7275 from anywhere in the US or 907-272-7275 locally or outside the US.
Tickets can be purchased by phone up until the day before your bus trip. Shuttle bus tickets are also available, by walk-in, at the Wilderness Access Center (at the Park), beginning two days before the travel date. See sidebar for mail-in, online addresses, and phone and fax numbers.