Riding a bus into Denali National Park will be limited during the 2020 season, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Shuttle buses will be allowed as far as Eielson Visitor Center.
Only one narrated tour is available, to Mile 62 of the park road. Also, a series of weekends has been set aside for private vehicles to acquire permits and drive into the park.
The 92-mile road into Denali National Park and Preserve runs from the Parks Highway to the former mining community of Kantishna. Buses will only travel as far as Mile 66 this summer.
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.
This year, visitors have a choice of either a shuttle bus or a tour bus.
Shuttle buses are less expensive and have fewer amenities, but travel farther into the park. Traditionally, 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, camp, backpack or picnic in the park take a shuttle bus.
The shuttle is also 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.
This season, the only narrated tour available is the Tundra Wilderness Tour.
Starting June 12, reservations can be made by calling (800) 622-7275 or online at www.reservedenali.com. Tours begin July 1.
Check the Denali National park website at www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit for updated schedules and details.
Schedules are limited this season, due to the coronavirus. Buses will operate at 50 percent capacity to maintain social distancing, so buses will be half full.
Options inside park
Shuttle 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. This year, buses will go as far as Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66. There are no buses to Wonder Lake.
Tundra Wilderness Tour: This 7-8 hour narrated tour goes to Mile 62 from July 1 to mid-September. Box lunch and hot beverage provided. Most departures are early morning or early afternoon.
Many front-country buses canceled
There will be no front-country shuttle buses and no buses to the Denali Sled Dog Kennels because the kennels are closed to the public. There will be no courtesy bus to Savage River or the Riley Creek Camping loop.
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.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and downturn in visitation, the park is allowing private vehicles to drive into the park, past Mile 15, on certain weekends from July through September. Permits are required and available at www.recreation.gov. Private vehicles can go as far as Eielson Visitor Center at Mile 66. Details at www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/conditions.htm#bus
Private permits are also be available at www.recreation.gov to drive private vehicles to Teklanika at Mile 30 June 1-30.
Guided commercial tours are new this season. Details will be announced at www.nps.gov/dena.