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Denali National Park: Top Attraction of Alaska

Denali National Park: Top Attraction of Alaska

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The visit to Denali National Park is an experience filled with expectations of immensely high mountain peaks and endless glaciers. After all, a mountain of over 6000 meters high is not something you come across everywhere. Additionally, there are plenty of wild animals to be found, such as grizzly bears, caribou, and wild Dall sheep. There are also more than 600 species of birds, including the ‘Golden Eagle’ and the ptarmigan. All of this is set in the beautiful pristine nature. What’s remarkable is that the park is in open connection with the surroundings, without fences or barriers. During our tour of Alaska we allocated two days to visit this park.


Visitor center as an orientation to Denali National Park

On the first day, we use it to drive to the park and explore the visitor center. This center is located about two kilometers past the park entrance. It is the size of a small museum and gives you an idea of what to expect in the park. From the visitor center, there is a central road into the park. This road is accessible up to Mile 15. If you want to go further into the park, you need an entrance pass and are reliant on a bus tour. During our visit, the endpoint of all excursions is Mile 43 due to work on a bridge the road crosses. This means you are already over 60 kilometers into the park. We don’t find this to be a limitation. The park’s website shows the current situation.

From the visitor center, you can take several walks. This is great if you have limited time or if the weather isn’t favorable. We opt for a short one-hour walk to the train bridge. We choose to do this well-marked walk individually. If you want more information about the park’s flora and fauna, it’s possible to join a (free) guided walk at this location.

Visitor Center

A bus excursion to experience the true wilderness

The next day, we have a bus excursion planned. There are three options. The first is using the green buses for free up to 15 miles into the park. The second option is with a green bus that goes up to Mile 43 into the park. You can always get off and continue with the next bus. This tour (without getting off) lasts about four and a half hours. The last option is a full-day tour with a lot of information provided by a guide. For us, the second option is the most suitable. A good choice, as we later find out.


“Welcome in my bus”

The bus driver, Anna, is an energetic lady who has been working in the park for eighteen years. “Welcome in my bus” is the motto. If anyone spots wildlife in the bus, they must report it. The bus will then pull over. There is always plenty of time for photos. Meanwhile, Anna enthusiastically tells us about the park and the animals. Fortunately, it doesn’t rain on this day, but it is cloudy. Due to the clouds, we unfortunately can’t see Mount Denali. Anna says it’s not a problem; that’s often the case. You’re actually lucky if you can see it. A practical approach to not seeing it in a negative light.


A grizzly bear with cubs sparks great excitement

Ultimately, the excursion turns into a real safari where we encounter numerous caribou, Dall sheep, a moose, and some smaller wildlife. Nature is given ample space here. Wildlife isn’t seen in abundance, but is spread across the park’s vast expanse. Suddenly, everyone leans over to one side of the bus. A grizzly bear with cubs has been spotted. Quietly, they entertain themselves at least a hundred meters away from the bus. It’s a magnificent spectacle. All of this set against an enchanting landscape. The tundra partially turns yellow, and many broad rivers make their way from the mountain ranges.


Hiking in Denali National Park

The endpoint of the excursion is at Mile 43, the East Fork. Here too, you can disembark and take a walk if you wish. Some fellow travelers opt for this. In this case, you have to put your name on a list for a spot on a returning bus. If the bus is full, you have to wait for the next available one. For this reason, we decide to undertake our walk at another point.

We do this at Mile 15. This is the boundary between the paid and the freely accessible part of the park. Here, you walk along the Savage River and can return with every following bus. Anna reiterates before we disembark: for bears, don’t run but make yourself big and shout. If you encounter a moose, get out of there… In practice, it’s not all that thrilling, as it turns out. There are plenty of people walking this route, making it a relaxed journey. Not strenuous and an impressive landscape due to the grandeur of nature.

small bridge

Additional attraction in Denali National Park: the “Sledge Dog Kennels”

Finally, we visit the sled dogs in the park. These ‘Sled Dog Kennels‘ are located a few kilometers past the visitor center. Here, demonstrations with sled dogs are held several times a day. A large number of dogs are used for transportation by sled within the park during the winter. We visit the dogs’ residence, where they can be viewed and petted in peace. The dogs get excited when they are lined up to pull the sled. It turns into a short demonstration round. Meanwhile, a ranger tells the story about the dogs. Denali is the only park in America where dogs are used in this way. A unique facility indeed. It’s a nice conclusion to a wonderful day.

If it’s clear tomorrow, we might go out to spot the peaks of Mount Denali. However, the weather forecast doesn’t give much hope for a cloudless sky.


The next day, unfortunately, the weather is the same as the days before. No view of the white peaks in this impressive landscape. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed this full day in a truly stunning park.


Answers to Practical Questions about Visiting Denali National Park

Where is Denali National Park located?

Denali is situated between Anchorage and Fairbanks, along the Parks Highway.

How can I reach Denali National Park?

The park entrance is located along the Parks Highway at mile 237. The park can be accessed by car, train, or special excursions from places like Talkeetna using a small plane (where landing on Mount Denali is possible - Good weather is a prerequisite).

What is the best time to visit Denali National Park?

The park is open all year round. Each season offers a unique experience.

Where can I find information about visiting the park?

Information about the park can be obtained on the park's website and at the Denali Visitor Center, open in summer from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. The park itself is open 24 hours a day, all year round.

What activities are available in the park?

In addition to hiking, cycling is also an option. It is possible to drive into the park up to Mile 15 with your own rental car without an entrance pass.

Where is the best place to stay when visiting Denali National Park?

Accommodation options include camping, visiting the park with a camper, or booking lodging just outside the park.


Healy is nearby but not particularly worth visiting as a place. This, however, may not be a problem since you'll be spending your days in the park anyway.


Several accommodations can be found around the park along the Parks Highway, especially north of the entrance, at around Mile 248 on this roadway.

What is a good place to eat in Denali National Park?

There is a restaurant at the visitor center where you can get coffee, lunch, or a snack during the day. Outside the park, there are various restaurants and dining options available. In Healy, there is 49th State Brewing (make a reservation as it gets very busy every day).

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