US Park Info: Denali National Park

There is perhaps no physical landmark that exhibits the natural beauty, size, and Mt McKinley at Denali National Parkpower of all that is Alaska than Mt. McKinley located in Denali National Park and Preserve. Although beautiful, it is actually a pretty rare occurence to be able to see the whole mountain during the summer months due to clouds. I visited denali twice during the 2000 season, one in early June, the other in July, amazingly seeing Denali all 8 days that I was in the park.

It's more than a mountain. Denali National Park & Preserve features North America's highest mountain, 20,320-foot tall Mount McKinley. The Alaska Range also includes countless other spectacular mountains and many
large glaciers. Denali's more than 6 million acres also encompass a complete sub-arctic eco-system with large mammals such as grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, and moose.

The park was established as Mt. McKinley National Park on Feb. 26, 1917. The original park was designated a wilderness area and incorporated into Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980. The Park was designated an international biosphere reserve in 1976.

Today the park accommodates a wide variety of visitor use including wildlife viewing, mountaineering, and backpacking. It continues to provide a laboratory for research in the natural.

Basic Information on Denali National Park

What is the Nearest Airport to Denali - It is roughly halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks Airports. Most people enter Alaska through Anchorage with their significantly larger number of flights to the "Lower 48".

How to Drive to Denali National Park - Denali Park's headquarters is located along Alaska Route 3, the George Parks Highway, approximately 240 miles north of Anchorage, AK, 125 miles south of Fairbanks, AK, and 12 miles south of Healy, AK. Denali Park's mountaineering headquarters is located in Talkeetna, AK, approximately 100 miles north of Anchorage, AK.

Weather & Climate
Summers are generally cool and damp with average high temperatures in the mid-60s.
Winters are extremely cold with temperatures falling to -40F and below.

Layers of clothing, including good rain gear and hiking boots are recommended for summer. Specialized cold-weather gear is necessary for mountaineering and winter visits.

Most restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Savage Cabin Trail is wheelchair accessible. Some tour and shuttle buses are accessible please advise staff of needs when making your advance reservations. The Visitor Center orientation program is open captioned.

Where to Stay at Denali National Park

Campgrounds and Camping at Denali National Park

Igloo Creek Campground
Open Summers
Located near mile 34 of the Park Road with 7 tent sites only; no vehicles; shuttle bus access only.
Open mid-May through mid-September. No water available but there are chemical toilets.
$6.00 per night fee. Igloo Ranger Station nearby.
You can reserve at the Visitor Center; store food in food lockers; no open fires - stoves only.

Morino Backpacker
Open Summers
Located Mile 1.9 of the Park Road for backpackers only and 2 people per site allowed for $6.00 per site.
No vehicles. Chemical toilets near sites, pay phone at Railroad Depot.
Self-register at Morino; store food in lockers; no open fires - stoves only.

Small campground located at the entrance area, for backpackers and aircraft owners only. There is no place to park a vehicle and hike back into to camp, so dont try it. Park rangers get upset if you do that.

Riley Creek Campground
Open All Year
Riley Creek Campground is situated near the park entrance.
There are 100 sites for RVs & tents.
There is water from mid-May through early September only.
Flush toilets and pay phone available.
You may make book a site in person at the Visitor Center or via advance reservations by phone starting in late February.
Please call 1-800-622-7275 (PARK) nationwide or 1-907-272-7275 for International and Anchorage callers.
There is a one-reservation fee of $4.00. More Info... For More Information on this campground please call 1-800-622-7275

Large, national park campground that is very common to all national parks out west. There is not much space between the sites, and privacy is at a minimum. This campground fills up the fastest. A good spot to camp if you have a big rig or large family and want to have access to the town outside the park easily.

Sanctuary River Campground
Open Summers
Located at mile 23 with 7 sites for tents only; accessible by shuttle bus only. Open mid-May through mid-September; weather dependent. No water available. Chemical toilets. Located near Sanctuary Ranger Station. Reserve at Visitor Center; store food in food lockers; no open fires - stoves only. $6.00 per nigh cost.

Savage River Campground
Open Summers
Located at mile 13 of the Park Road with 33 sites for RVs and tents.
Open mid-May through mid-September - weather dependent.
Water available, flush toilets, $12.00 per night plus $4.00 reservation fee.
Advance Reservations made by calling 1-800-622-7275 or 1-800-272-7275 for International and Anchorage callers.
Campground hosts on site. Store food in food lockers.
For More Information on this campground please call 1-800-722-7275

The farthest you can drive into the park except for Teklanika River. It is a very nice campground located near the Savage River. There are good river beds in which to wander around on, and a small herd of caribou is common site near the campground. The sites have a lot more space between them than Riley Creek, and the campground has flush toilets starting in early June.

Teklanika River Campground
Open From 05/18/2000 To 09/18/2000
Located at mile 29 with 53 sites for RVs and tents.
Open mid-May through mid-September; weather dependent.
Flush toilets and water available.
Cost is $12.00 per night and an additional $4.00 for the one-time reservation fee.
You can also reserve in person at the Visitor Center and there is a three night mimimum stay for vehicle campers.
Reserve by calling 1-800-622-7275 or International and Anchorage callers may call 1-800-272-7275.
For More Information on this campground please call 1-800-622-7275

The farthest distance you can drive your vehicle into the park, some 29 miles down the road. You must stay for a minimum of 3 days in order to drive your vehicle down the road, and once there you are asked not to move it. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from the Visitor Center to the campground. There is fresh water and chemical toilets, but nothing else. There is a small ampitheater where ranger programs are offered each evening during the summer. The campground is right next to the river bed, which offers a great place to hike and explore without dealing with the large brush that is found elsewhere. The shuttle bus stops at the entrance to the campground. The Teklanika pass is a great way to see a lot of the park. It reserves a seat on a bus the first day (I would suggest the first bus that gets to the campground at 630am to Wonder Lake) and then allows you space available rides farther into the park. You can not take the bus back to the entrance.

Wonder Lake Campground
Open From 06/10/2000 To 09/18/2000
Located near mile 85 on the Park Road with 28 tents sites only and access by shuttle bus only.
Open June - mid-September; weather dependent.
Water is available and flush toilets.
Cost is $12.00 per night with an additional one-time $4.00 reservation fee.
You can reserve in advance by calling 1-800-622-7275 or International and Anchorage callers may phone 1-800-272-7275.
Store food in lockers; no open fires - stoves only.
For More Information on this campground please call 1-800-622-7275

There are a billion mosquitoes around wonder lake, so be prepared... do not have any skin showing or it will be taken a bite of. The only way to get to the campground is by shuttle bus (preferably camper bus due to the extra room). Wonder Lake is not the prettiest place in the park in my opinion, but is a worthwhile destination on the bus.

What to Do in Denali National Park

The Denali Park Road is accessible by private vehicle for 14.8 miles to the Savage River bridge. To travel to destinations farther into the park, including Eielson Visitor Center, shuttle and tour bus services are available. Bicycles are permitted along the Park Road.

Shuttle Buses
Denali National Park and Preserve was established in 1917 to preserve the wildlife and majestic habitat of this sub-arctic ecosystem. The first visitors who made the journey to Denali were allowed to drive the park road. As visitation increased and traveling along the narrow, rustic park road became a threat to wildlife, the National Park Service recognized the need for public transportation or massive road improvements. The bus transportation system was established in 1972 to limit road traffic and maximize opportunities to view wildlife.

Today's visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve have a unique opportunity. By using the park's transportation system, they actively support the National Park Service mission of preserving and protecting park resources for future generations. This system also provides a high quality visitor experience. Beyond mile 14 of the park road, you 'll need to be on a bus, a bicycle or your own two feet (most folks opt for a bus). Riding a bus enhances your chances of spotting wildlife. You are sitting higher than if you were in a car and there are many pairs of eyes watching.

The Buses also have an added benefit, you can just yell out "Stop" at any time (except one 5 mile stretch) and get off the bus and hike along. When you are done hiking, you just go stand or sit by the side of the road and the next bus that has room for you will stop and pick you up. It is the best way to see the park. In under 5 minutes, you can be far enough from the road to experience a true wilderness experience. On one such side trip, I saw over 20 caribou and was even chased by a bull caribou through a small river. Granted the Ranger I told my story to thought it was the first time thats happened, it is probably due to the color of clothes i was wearing and having a tripod on my sholder (kinda looked like a caribou). Remember to bring drinks and anything you may want, since it is impossible to pick it up along the roadway.

There are 3 different Shuttle Buses Available:

Visitor Transportation System (shuttle bus)
- Visitors can get off and on different shuttle buses on a space available basis in order in order to explore the park.
- There is no food or beverages provided. Bring your own snacks, lunch and beverage.
- Camper Buses provide transportation into the park for visitors staying in campgrounds or in backcountry units.
- Wheelchair accessible buses are available - advise staff when making reservations.

- Both the Tundra Wildlife Tour (6-8 hours roundtrip) and the Denali Natural History Tour (3 hours roundtrip) provide a formal interpretive program.
- A snack or box lunch and hot drinks are provided.
- Cost: Tundra Wildlife Tour (early and late season) is $48.00, Tundra Wildlife Tour is $71.00 Denali Natural History Tour is $37.00.
- Wheelchair buses are available - advise staff when making reservations.

Entrance Area Shuttles
-There are three shuttle bus loops in the highly visited entrance.
-Two of these are free and one is offered at a nominal charge Hop on these at any time.
---- Riley Creek Loop, Savage River Shuttle, Dog Sled Demonstration

-You may see other buses along the road.There are businesses at Kantishna, an inholding north of Wonder Lake, which offer bus transportation for guests staying at their facilities.












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