Denali National Park Trip Details
Facts about the park
Denali is the tallest point in North America reaching 20, 310 feet. When flying into Anchorage, we could see it from a far.
It was interesting to learn that only 30% of visitors get clear views of Denali. When I was planning my trip, I knew July might be the best month to visit weather wise. One of our guides said spring is in June, summer is in July and fall is in August & September.
Denali National Park was established over 100 years ago dating back to February 1917.
The park is only accessible with your vehicle until mile 15.
Denali is considered the coldest mountain in the world. It has reached a temperature of -60 degrees F with wind gusts as much as 100 miles per hour.
Dates visited Denali National Park – July 10th, 11th and 12th 2021
Be sure to book a guided tour to see the park.
Unlike most national parks, you can only drive a short distance into the park. In order to see more, you need to book a guided tour. We did the Tundra Wilderness tour. The cost was $162.50 per person. It did take up most of the day and included snacks & water. While the NPS does offer more tours, many were not available in 2021 due to COVID-19. If I were to choose another tour, I would choose Kantishna, which allows you to go to the end of the road at mile 92. This is the deepest you can go into the park.
How long should you stay?
We stayed a total of three nights and spent two full days in the park. I was happy with my length of stay, but we also got extremely lucky with good weather.
What animals should you expect to see?
Denali National Park is known for the Big 5 which includes caribou, bears, moose, Dall sheep and grey wolves. On my trip, we were able to see all but wolves. Golden eagles, Willow ptarmigan and Artic ground squirrels can also be found in the park.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Denali Park Village. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was clean & quiet.
Tips on what I would have done different
The only mistake I feel I made was choosing the type of guided tour. When I was planning this trip, I researched guided tours on the park service’s website only. They were only offering two tours in 2021. The longest tour went to mile 62, Stony Hill. I didn’t realize I could have booked other tours outside of the park service that actually went deeper into the park.
I may splurge by making hotel reservations in the backcountry since I didn’t get to see Wonder Lake on my first trip.
Activities We Did at Denali National Park
While there aren’t a ton of trails to choose from within the mile 15 marker, we did hike the Mount Healy Overlook trail. We enjoyed it. The Savage River trail was also recommended, but we only chose to do one hike.
Flight tour –
This was our splurge of our entire Alaska trip, but well worth it. We did not intend to do this trip when we arrived, but as we were looking at the weather report, we thought we would go for it! We were able to get a last minute booking the night before through Fly Denali. This worked out perfectly because it was only 20 minutes away from our hotel. Other tours are out of Talkeetna, AK and were over two hours away. Many people book through K2 or other companies and take the flight tour on their way to Denali National Park.
Where to Eat –
Most hotels have a restaurant and café, but there were other restaurants & shops located just outside Denali National Park.
We highly recommend eating at The Overlook or Prospector’s Pizzeria. We ate at The Overlook 2x and the meals were outstanding. Plus, they have an amazing deck with a view.
Three Night Stay Trip Details
Day 1 –
Drive from Anchorage to Denali. We got up early and booked a glacier hiking tour at Matanuska Glacier (2 hour drive) – tour at 8 AM.
Afterwards, we drove to Denali National Park (4.5 hour drive).
Photo ops at Denali Viewpoint South and North. We felt Denali Viewpoint South was much better than North.
Day 2 –
Tundra Wilderness tour
Dinner at Prospector’s Pizzeria & enjoy the shops nearby.
Day 3 –
Hike Mount Healy Overlook trail
- 6.9 miles, 2,483 feet elevation gain, out & back trail
Dinner again at The Overlook
- The apple tart was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten. Grilled halibut and fish & chips were also excellent.