Denali National Park


The Seasons in Denali

Most travelers visit Denali National Park during the warmest part of the year between May and September. Early May and late September may see colder temperatures and a greater chance of inclement weather. You should be prepared for any type of weather when visiting Denali.

The springtime in Denali National Park is called the "Shoulder Season", this is when the park is coming out of the winter or moving into fall. In Denali they usually begin plowing the roads in March although the entire road may not be accessible until the middle of April. The best plan is to call ahead and check the conditions if you are thinking about going to Denali during the spring side of the shoulder season.

In the summer the bus service starts in late may, however the entire road may not be traveled by bus until early June. There are also shuttle buses that operate until around mid September. During the fall private vehicles may drive up to 30 miles into the park beginning September 21st. Again, it is always a good idea to call ahead and check for the latest conditions and possible incoming storms.

Visiting Denali National Park

Summer is short in Denali and the winters are cold and harsh. This is a land of extremes and life bursts forward in the springtime. If you travel to Denali National Park in the summer you will find that most services and activities are available. Travel within the park is also easier as the bus and shuttles are in service. In Denali, the ideal time to visit is between June 8th and September 16th. This is assuming that you are in need of services such as the bus and common tourist amenities.

Bus Trips through Denali

Denali Park Road is 92 miles long and is the only road in the park. Taking a bus ride through the valleys and mountain passes gives you a good opportunity to look at the beautiful surroundings and potentially spot wildlife native to the area. During the summer private vehicles are only allowed to drive 15 miles into the park. This will get you to Savage River and there is usually a good chance you will see wildlife along the way.

There are basically two types of bus rides in Denali, the shuttle bus and the tour bus. The shuttle bus is less expensive and you can disembark and re-board anywhere along the road including bathrooms and for wildlife viewing. If you opt for a tour bus you will receive a narrated tour with drivers that can provide details about the wildlife and scenery.

Cycling in Denali

You may also cycle through Denali as long as you stay on park roads and designated bike trails between the Denali visitor center and the Nenana River. Bicycles may not travel on any other trails. Bicycle riders must travel single file, keep to the right and follow the traffic rules within the park.

Denali Campgrounds

There are six campgrounds at Denali, two of the campgrounds Riley and Savage are located along the first 15 miles of the park road. The other campgrounds, Wonder Lake, Igloo, Teklanika and Sanctuary are west of the Savage River. If you do have a campground reservation and you plan on doing more than just day hiking, you may procure a backcountry permit for backpacking and hiking. The backcountry permits are free of charge.

Fishing in Denali

The lakes and streams in Denali are poor habitats for fish as the glacial silt level is very high. There are however some clear ponds and streams to be found. Trout has been caught in Wonder Lake and also may be found in the clear streams within the park. You do not need a state license or permit to fish in Denali.

Mountain Climbing in Denali

You may procure permits for climbing Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker through the Talkeetna Ranger Station. For smaller peaks such as Scott Peak, Mt. Brooks and Mt Pendleton, you must speak with a ranger at the BIC or Talkeetna Ranger Station for the guidelines for these types of climbs.

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