Denali National Park – Tours
The National Park service operates transit buses and also narrated bus tours for you to visit Denali National Park. Private vehicles can only drive the first 15 miles into the park. Three standard narrated tours are offered:
- 5 hour tour to the Teklanika River (mile 27)
- 8 hour Denali Day Tour to Eielson Visitor Center (mile 66)
- 12 hour tour to Wonder Lake (mile 92)
Denali Village Lodging
The McKinley Chalet Resort is in the village at the park entrance and is operated by Holland America Line. Holland America Line passengers highly recommend the McKinly Chalet Resort. The facilities are great. The wood construction and gas fireplace create a warm atmosphere. Booking can be a problem as Holland America (owned by Carnival) will assign space to their land tours first.
The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is in the village at the park entrance and is operated by Princess Cruises. Similar to the McKinley Chalet, the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is wood construction with a gas fireplace. The rooms are in several separate 2 story wood buildings. Their restaurant, tucked against the Nenana River, receives high praise for the great food. Booking can be a problem as Princess (owned by Carnival) will assign space to their land tours first.
Grande Denali Lodge is on a bluff overlooking the village at the park entrance. Grande Denali Lodge is fairly expensive with fabulous views over the valley and the Denali park entrance village below. Their large dining room has great valley views too.
Denali Grizzly Bear Resort is 6 miles south of the Denali park entrance on the Nenana River.
Mt McKinley Wilderness Lodge
Princess Cruises also operates the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge 2 hours south of the Denali National Park entrance. Cruise ship land tours often spend a couple nights at this lodge and then a couple nights at the Denali village. If you aren’t cruising, you might not be able to book a room, depending on availability.
Denali National Park – More Tours
Denali Peak Flight – fly over Denali from 8 miles south of the park entrance.
Grand Denali Flightseeing – fly over Denali from the village of Talkeetna
Denali National Park Weather
July is the height of summer Denali National Park weather. Expect average highs at the valley floor in that month to be 68 F (20 C) and lows to be under 50 F (9 C). July and August are the rainiest months, with an average monthly precipitation of about 3 inches (75 mm). The summer sun stays up until about 11 pm and it never gets very dark at night. By August temperatures are already noticeably cooler.
Average highs drop below zero in January, while average lows are below freezing from late September until late April. The tourist season extends from May to September but June – August marks its height. July is the best month for comfortable Denali National Park weather, but the chances of seeing Denali (Mt McKinley) might be better in May or September.
Get to Denali National Park
Anchorage and Fairbanks are the two nearest major airports to Denali. A rental car is a good way to get to Denali National Park. A rental car allows flexibility and is less expensive than the train. Anchorage is about 4.5 hours south of Denali and Fairbanks is about 2.5 hours north.
The Alaska Railroad is another way to get to Denali National Park. The railroad runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks with stops at Talkeetna and Denali. Princess Cruises and Holland America Lines are heavily invested in Denali. Not only do they have their own lodges, they also have their own passenger cars on the Alaska Railroad. Cruise lines offer rail transportation from Anchorage or Fairbanks in their cruise packages.
Visit Denali National Park – Background
Mount McKinley in the Alaska Range is known in the native Athabascan language as Denali and the name is catching on. Lend support and respect to First Nations by using the name Denali. Denali peak is over 20,000 feet high (6,000 m) and is a favorite climbing destination with multiple options for the ascent. The mountain forms the center piece of Denali National Park and Preserve. The park is gigantic, covering over 6 million acres (24,000 sq km). Its valleys are inhabited by grizzlies, moose, caribou, sheep and foxes.