Home to the highest mountain in North America and some of Alaska's most beautiful landscapes, Denali National Park belongs on every visitor's must-see list. Here you can find our answers to questions we get the most about Denali Park. Don't see your question answered here? You can contact us online or call us at 800-208-0200.
Child safety seats are required on all buses in Denali National Park. Parents are responsible for providing their own car seat. Children five through seven years who are less than 57 inches tall or less than 65 pounds must be in a booster seat. Children younger than one year of age or less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing infant seat. Children one to four years and at least 20 pounds must be in a child restraint.
Denali National Park is about 120 miles south of Fairbanks and 240 miles north of Anchorage. Please follow the links below for all the details on traveling from the Denali Park area.
How to Get from Denali Park to Anchorage
How to Get from Denali Park to Seward
How to Get from Denali Park to Talkeetna
The Denali Park Road is accessible by private vehicle to mile 15 at the Savage River ranger checkpoint.
To see travel times by train, motorcoach, and car from Denali Park, please follow these links:
Travel Times from Denali Park to Anchorage
Travel Times from Denali Park to Seward
Travel Times from Denali Park to Talkeetna
The Denali Park Road is 92 miles long. The first 15 miles of the park road is paved. Beyond that it's maintained gravel. The elevation varies as you travel over several mountain passes and through river valleys. Highway Pass is the highest point on the park road at 3,980 feet above sea level.
You should spend at least two nights in the Denali Park area. This gives you time for travel and ensures that you can spend a full day on a guided wildlife bus tour into the park. That said, there are more than enough activities in the Denali Park area to fill multiple days.
The best hotels near Denali National Park offer comfortable accommodations and in many cases free transportation to the park. Please visit our Denali Park lodging page for a full list of accommodations we book.
The best things to do in Denali National Park treat visitors to exceptional views and experiences within the park's vast, dynamic lands. A guided bus tour into the park is a must-do. For more ideas and a full list of what we book, please visit our Denali Park things to do page.
It's best to visit Denali National Park from June through early September. Depending on the snow conditions, the Denali Park Road may not fully open till the first weeks of June, limiting access by some guided bus tours. The road closes to all bus traffic by the second week of September.
Check with your accommodations to see if they offer a shuttle service. Unless you have a rental car, this is the most common way to get around. Most of the day tour companies in Denali Park offer pick up from hotels, depending on where you are staying.
Denali is so high that it creates its own weather, a phenomenon that can often result in partial or fully obstructed views. About 30 percent of visitors see Denali.
That said, there are several ways to increase your chances of seeing Denali. You can take a bus tour into Denali National Park, stay in a backcountry lodge, and even travel into the Alaska Range on a flightseeing trip. For more details about these options, plus the best places to see Denali from Talkeetna and Anchorage, check out this Denali viewing article.
Denali is the mountain's native Athabaskan name. It means "great one." The mountain was called Mount McKinley by William Dickey, a gold prospector enamored by President McKinley. Mount McKinley National Park was signed into law on February 26, 1917. Much controversy has surrounded the debate on what the mountain's name should be. On the eve of the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, the name was officially changed from "Mount McKinley" to "Denali."
The tours into Denali National Park take place on modified school buses.
Visitors have a way of working up an appetite during their time in the Denali National Park area. Luckily, the tiny Denali Park town area offers plenty of dining options. Some of our favorites include Prospectors Pizza, the Salmon Bake, and Black Bear, a small cafe that serves brunch, great coffee, and freshly made bakery treats. Many of the area hotels have quality restaurants as well. One standout is Alpenglow, a fine dining restaurant located high up the hillside in the Grande Denali Lodge. You can read more about Denali Park restaurants, including one particularly special hidden gem along the Park Highway, in this article.
A wide variety of wildlife inhabit Denali National Park. Some of the more common sightings are grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, eagles, marmot, red fox, and ground squirrels. Every trip into the park provides a chance of seeing any or many of the above species along with a variety of bird life.
The National Park Service has begun construction of a bridge to bypass an ongoing landslide on the Denali Park Road. The project is expected to take two years. During construction visitors will have access to 43 scenic miles of the Park Road. Tours below will be operating modified itineraries. Click on each for current descriptions. For more information, please check the Park Road page.
The Natural History Tour or Tundra Wilderness Tour are good options if you would like to go into Denali National Park but would prefer not to spend a full day. The five-hour Natural History Tour travels 30 miles into the park, and the eight- to nine-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour travels 62 miles into the park. If you would like to see the entirety of the Denali National Park Road, the Kantishna Wilderness Trails Tour or the Denali Backcountry Adventure are the best options. Both tours travel to the end of the Park Road and take about 13 hours including lunch stops at either the Kantishna Roadhouse or the Denali Backcountry Lodge respectively.
Wildlife sightings in Denali National Park are unpredictable and the time of day doesn't necessarily mean more active wildlife. The weather and time of year play a larger factor in animal activity. Many scavenger animals are more active in the fall as they prepare for winter. Grizzly bears in particular spend most of their day scavenging plants and berries to fatten up for their long winter hibernation.