The 92-mile road into Denali National Park and Preserve runs from the Parks Highway to the former mining community of Kantishna.
The first 15 miles are paved and open to the public. Past that point, at the Savage River checkpoint, vehicle travel is restricted on the narrow, winding gravel surface.
Buses shuttle visitors in and out of the park and drop off hikers and campers. Bus trips range from two to 12 hours, and visitors can take either a tour bus or a shuttle bus, or an all-day tour to/from Kantishna.
Shuttle buses are less expensive and have fewer amenities, but travel farther into the park. Visitors can get off when they want to hike for awhile, then get back on another bus, if seats are available.
Visitors planning to hike, bike, camp, backpack or picnic in the park should take a shuttle bus. The shuttle is available for folks who just want to enjoy the scenery and wildlife viewing. Be sure and bring along food and water. There are no convenience stores along the way.
Those who prefer a more deluxe trip can opt for one of the tours.
A variety of tour lengths, prices and options are available. Fees vary and are in addition to the park entrance fee.
Reservations for shuttles and tour buses can be made by calling 800-622-7275 or go online to www.reservedenali.com.
You can also reserve a spot in person at the Denali Bus Depot reservation desk, up to two days in advance. Check the website at www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit for schedules and details.
Free courtesy buses take visitors around the entrance area of Denali National Park, connecting with hotels and restaurants just outside the park.
Catch those buses at the Denali Visitor Center, Denali Bus Depot, Riley Creek Campground, Denali Park Post Office, Riley Creek Mercantile, Railroad Depot and trailheads that include Mountain Vista Loop and Savage River Loop.
A free bus takes visitors to the Denali Sled Dog Kennels for each 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. demonstration. Board the bus at the Denali Visitor Center bus stop only 40 minutes before the demonstration is due to begin. Return 90 minutes later.
Many businesses provide buses for people on their individual tours.
Options Inside Park
Shuttle or Transit Bus: This is the more flexible and more economical option. You can get on and off at any time - except for wildlife restricted areas and seat availability. Narration is not included, but experienced drivers often provide it anyway. Choices range from 6 to 12 hour trips.
Tundra Wilderness Tour: This 7-8 hour narrated tour goes to Mile 53 Toklat from May 20-31 and then to Mile 62 from June 1 to mid-September. Box lunch and hot beverage provided. Most departures are early morning or early afternoon.
Natural History Tour: 4 1/2 to 5 hour tour focuses on the natural and cultural history of the park and goes to the Teklanika River, Mile 27. Snack and beverage provided. Tour includes a stop at the Savage Cabin, an original ranger’s cabin, and an Alaskan Native presentation at Primrose Ridge.
Kantishna Experience: One-day, 12-hour round-trip to Kantishna that includes full lunch. A National Park Service interpretive ranger provides narration. Time is spent in Kantishna learning about its history. Two daily departures, 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Visitors headed to the backcountry for overnight stays should take the special camper bus, to accommodate their gear. These visitors require special backcountry permits that are obtained at the Denali Visitor Center. Buses leave from the Denali Bus Depot.