Denali National Park and Preserve Transportation Tips by karenincalifornia Top 5 Page for this destination
Denali National Park and Preserve Transportation: 33 reviews and 30 photos
Bust stop at Denali National Park
Other than bicycling (which wasn't that common) or flying (which costs a pretty penny), the only way to get into the heart of the park is by bus. If you are spending only one day in the Park (my question is why?) then do the bus tour. However, be prepared for a long, somewhat uncomfortable ride, with limited stops where all the other buses stop, and lots of people.
The buses are not luxury motor coaches, but are refurbished school buses. After 4 hours, I couldn't wait to get off for good. The buses will pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine if animals are spotted, which is nice. Otherwise, the buses will only stop at designated rest stops, and you'll be there with 8 -10 other busloads of people.
On the plus side, the drivers are VERY knowledgable about the area and wildlife. We learned a lot of interesting facts from our driver.
Make reservations. Do not depend on getting on a bus at the last minute.
Phone: 1 (800) 622-7275
Bicycling in Denali National Park
Bicycles are permitted on the main road through Deanli National Park only (do not ask about mountain bike trails - you'll only be greeted with a shudder of revulsion). You can bicycle the entire length of the Park road (90 miles), whereas cars are permitted only 15 miles into the Park. Shuttle buses go much further than the 15 mile mark, but even they, depending on the particular bus, cannot go all the way to Kantishna at the end of the road.
On the other hand, the shuttle buses are annoyingly numerous for a bicyclist. If you bicycle, you'll be competing with those shuttle buses, and you do have to give them priority on the road. At some points, the road is narrow and there is no bike lane anywhere in the Park. The road is paved a short distance, but most of the 90 miles is a dusty dirt road.
If you are interested in cycling through the Park, consider doing it in the evening. The shuttle busss stop going around the park by 5:00 to 6:00 pm. During summer, it stays light all evening long, so you could easily bicycle into the wee hours of the morning. Alternatively, start very early in the morning (like 4:00 am - again it will be very light) and get a jump start in front of the shuttle buses. On a bicycle you may have more opportunities for wildlife sighthings - a little bicycle is not as threatening to the animals as those humongous shuttle buses.
Train station at Denali
We spent more than two weeks in Alaska and relied mostly on busses, boats, airplanes and trains to get us around. To get to Denali National Park from Anchorage, we took the Denali Star Train. The ride is very pleasant and runs through beautiful Alaskan country. Each train is staffed with a tour guide, who is actually a high school student chosen from a highly competitve pool of applicants and goes through rigorous training. You'll be amazed at how professional and articulate these high school kids are! What a wonderful program Alaska has for its kids!
The fare between Anchorage and Denali is $103 per adult and $52 per child. The trip takes almost 4 hours one way. Food is served on the train and is quite good. You should make a reservation. No need to pay extra for the Gold Star service. There was plenty of room in the upstairs portion of the dome cars. We went up there when we wanted a good view. It was spectacular!
Kantishna Air Taxi
Oh ye of little patience! You could charter a small plane to Kantishna. Far more expensive, but spectacular in its own right.
We were bussed in to Kantishna, but had a pilot fly us around Mt. McKinley on a beautiful day. More about that in one of my other tips. This is a picture of the Kantishna Air Taxi plane that flew us around the mountain. The Air Taxi service will also fly to and from the Park entrance as well as to Anchorage.
This is what taxi drivers do in Alaska.
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