Six million acres of natural wonders and wildlife. Muldrow Glacier, Ruth Gorge, Wickersham Wall. Grizzlies, Dall sheep, Arctic squirrels. One road into a boundless wilderness. You could spend a lifetime exploring Denali National Park.

But if that's not's what do with a little less time.

How to Spend 1 Day in Denali

One full day and two nights is the minimum amount of time we recommend for Denali National Park.

If you have only that time, book a ticket on the Tundra Wilderness Tour. This guided bus tour takes you as far into the park as one can go by road (this year it's to Mile 43) with several stops at viewpoints and for wildlife sightings. The tour takes about five hours. If you have your own transportation, visit the Visitors Center and take a short hike in the Denali Park frontcountry before or after.

Denali Park Road, Denali National Park. Photo by Mishonda Monday.

How to Spend 2 Days in Denali

If you have two days in the Denali area, spend one day inside the park and one day outside the park.

There is a whole slew of things to do just outside the Denali Park boundary. Some favorites include:

  • Raft trips on the Nenana River, which borders the park. Both mellow scenic and splashy whitewater varieties are available.
  • ATV tours just north of the park entrance. Just adventurous enough, plus you'll learn some interesting history, geology, and even glaciology along the way. Drive your own ATV or ride with others in a side-by-side.
  • Guided interpretive hikes on area trails. Get to know the area's tough flora and small fauna.

You can also flightsee by helicopter, zipline, and visit sled dogs. Most of these tours have both AM and PM departure times so it's easy to coordinate two in a day. They also provide transportation from area lodging for those without their own vehicles.

How to Spend 3 Days in Denali

With three full days, explore farther within Denali National Park or farther afield beyond the park.

With your third full day you can pick your own adventure. Craving more of the remarkable landscapes within the park, or eager to explore more of an area you saw on the bus tour? Book a seat on a park camper/transit bus. These green buses offer hop-off, hop-on service along the park road similar to a whistlestop train. We recommend this option for avid outdoorsy travelers comfortable spending time in the backcountry.

Your second option is to join a guided jeep tour on the Denali Highway. Not to be confused with the Denali Park Road, the Denali Highway is about 45 minutes away from the park entrance. It offers its own amazing views of the eastern Alaska Range. The tour itself is a great fit if you'd like a little wilderness exploration, but from the comfort of a vehicle and in a group with a guide.

Jeep group stops for a photo in front of the Alaska Range.

More Like This: How Denali Park Bus Tours Work

At Alaska Tour & Travel, we specialize in building custom trips for every timeline, personality, and budget. If you'd like to have an Alaskan plan your Alaska trip, give us a call at 800-208-0200.

Posted in: Alaska Parks, Best Things to Do