Denali National Park - What to Know Before You Go

Your visit to Denali National Park will probably be a once in a lifetime adventure, so proper planning is highly recommended to help get the most out of your trip. Here are some of the main things you should know before you go.

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Plan and Prepare for Your Denali Adventure

Caribou Browsing Among the Fall Color in Denali National Park
© Angela M. Brown

When to Visit Denali National Park
Late May to the middle of September are the most popular weeks to visit Denali National Park. Services are quite limited outside of this season.

Fees and Permits
Denali National Park collects an entrance fee on a per-person or per-vehicle basis. Annual passes specific to Denali National Park are available. The annual passes valid for US National Parks are also valid at this park. Additional registration and permits are required for mountaineering and backcountry activities.

Advanced reservations for Denali National Park camping, bus tours, and shuttle buses are highly recommended and are available online.

Location of the Main Entrance to Denali National Park
The entrance to that portion of the park that visitors can access is located at mile 237.4 along the George Parks Highway. By drive, the entrance is 237 miles north of Anchorage, and 121 miles south of Fairbanks. It is near the northeast corner of the park.

The Wilderness Access Center
Located about 3/4-miles into the park, The Wilderness Access Center is the place to get information about current conditions, purchase bus tour tickets, catch park shuttle buses, and get all your general questions answered.

The Park Road
The Park Road is the single and only road that runs into this wilderness park. The Park Road is paved and accessible to private vehicles for only the first 15 miles, up to the Savage River campground and hiking trail heads. After that, the road is graveled and can be traveled by bicycle, on an interpretive bus tour (highly recommended), or by shuttle bus. Free shuttles operate within the park's entrance area and to Savage River.

Viewing Denali
The visibility of Denali and the Alaska Range, whether you are inside or outside of Denali National Park, can be problematic. Those who get the opportunity to enjoy an extended and un-obscured view are lucky indeed. All or part of the mountain is obscured by clouds or fog 80% of the time.

Fun Things to Do in Denali National Park
Recommended park activities include spending time at the visitor center to take in the film and enjoying one of the interpretive bus tours. Hiking and biking are popular recreation activities. Special tours and programs are also available.

Where to Stay When Visiting Denali National Park
Those who wish to spend more than a short day at Denali should plan to stay overnight in or near the park. You can camp or can stay at one of the excellent lodges located just outside the park entrance.

What to Bring to Denali National Park
You'll want to dress in layers and have a day pack available to hold your camera, snacks, water, extra layers of clothing, and anything else you need to make it through the day away from your car and most services. This might include tissues, medications, binoculars, a hat, or spare glasses.
More Alaska Packing Tips

How to Contact Denali National Park
phone: 1-907-683-2294

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Visitor Services in Denali National Park

1st Lt. Elias Zani/Released

Services and Facilities Available Inside Denali National Park
The bulk of the visitor services available inside the park are near the main entrance on the east side of the park.

  • Post office
  • Wilderness Access Center
  • Riley Creek Camp Mercantile
  • Murie Science and Learning Center
  • Railroad Depot
  • McKinley Park Airstrip
  • Denali Visitor Center
  • Morino Grill
  • Alaska Geographic Bookstore - souvenir and gift items as well as books and DVDs

Farther into the park you will find:

  • Toklat River Station (mile 53) - restrooms, book store, and information
  • Eielson Visitor Center (mile 66) - restrooms, art gallery, expert rangers

Services Available Just Outside Denali National Park Entrance
A small village of full-service lodge resorts, cabins, and other visitor services are located just outside the park entrance. You'll find a small market with groceries, liquor, and sundries, as well as a few options for casual dining.

The towns nearest to the entrance to Denali National Park are Healy and Cantwell, where you might find a broader range of services such as gas, vehicle repair, health care, and banking.

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