A Denali National Park vacation is something that was on our proverbial bucket list, and the trip has become one of our all-time family favorites!Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses over 6 million acres of amazing landscape, mountains, and wildlife. It is also home to the highest peak in the United States, Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) rises to 20,310 feet!
With Park Road being the only access method into the heart if the park, you have several options of things to see and do from guided tours, demonstrations, shuttle bus tours, hikes, and more. Here is what we chose to do our Denali National Park vacation:
Denali ATV Tour
I’m so glad that we chose to do the Denali Tundra Tour! This is a guided ATV tour that takes you down the desolate Stampede Trail on amphibious 6×6, all-terrain Argos! It pairs amazing scenery with adventure! The guides were very entertaining, as they educated us on the history of the Stampede trail, the wildlife, and scenery that we drove by. Each of our helmets had a speakers to hear the guide over the noise of the ATVs. Our only view of Denali’s peak (formerly Mt. McKinley) was on this tour! We felt that the tour was safe and despite forging some deep creeks, we stayed dry and mud-free. Check out our Denali ATV Tour page with additional pictures and a video clip montage of the ride.
Dog Sled Demonstration
The Denali National Park dog sled demonstration was a lot of fun. The dogs are friendly and you can even pet them. There was also a fairly young litter of puppies when we were there, which was a treat! The park rangers will describe the training and activities that they use the dogs for, along with some heroic stories. At the end, they will do a demonstration of the dogs pulling one of the rangers on a sled along the gravel road. Our family really enjoyed it – well worth it!
Eielson Shuttle Bus Tour
We really wanted to see as much of Denali National Park that we could in the few days of our visit. I felt that the Eielson Shuttle Bus Tour was a GREAT way to see the park. Park Road is a 92 mile gravel road that takes you from the park entrance to Kantishna. The Eielson Visitor Center is at Mile 66. There are no personal vehicles allowed on Park Road beyond Mile 15. See the map below.
You can find additional maps and lots of information to help plan your Denali National Park vacation on the NPS website (preceeding link).
The most popular tours take you down 15 or 30 miles of Park Road. Some of the most amazing scenery is beyond these points: Polychrome Pass Overlook (Mile 46); Toklat River Rest Area (Mile 53); and Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66). We also found that most of our wildlife sightings were further along Park Road, between miles 15 and 66. We saw LOTS of wildlife and this was definitely a highlight of the vacation. Here are just a few of the pictures:
While the wildlife sightings were the highlight of the trip, the scenery along the way was incredible. The gravel road was the only sign of man’s footprint on what was otherwise a pristine and vast landscape of mountains, flowers, trees, and rivers. There was a breathtaking view around each bend. The ride along Polychrome pass was a bit nail-biting (sit on the driver’s side if you are afraid of heights)!
George Parks Highway – scenic ride through Denali State Park
When we left Denali National Park to drive to Whittier for our Alaska cruise, we drove down Alaska Route 3 (George Parks Highway). The scenery along this route was incredible! When you enter Denali State Park, there are several scenic overlook spots where you can take pictures, read informative placards, and enjoy the views of Denali (Mount McKinley). If you take this route, you’ll want some extra time to enjoy these stops!