Scenic view of Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, towering over the surrounding forested landscape with snow-covered peaks under a blanket of clouds.

The Complete Guide to Visiting Denali National Park in 2024

If you are planning a trip to Denali National Park and Preserve and need some help planning your trip, this is our starter guide for visiting Denali National Park and Preserve. We often have detailed, in-depth guides reached to Denali National Park trip planning and will link to these where appropriate to make your trip planning as easy as possible.

The article will discuss all aspects of visiting Denali National Park and Preserve, including:

  • Maps of Denali National Park
  • General Information about Denali
  • Time to Visit
  • How to Make the Most of Your Visit
  • Best Things to do in Denali
  • Where to Stay
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Nearby National Parks

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DENALI ROAD CLOSURE: The Denali Park Road is closed at Mile 43. This closure is expected to remain in place until 2026. This means that all park services past mile 43 (Eielson Visitor Center, Igloo Campground, Wonder Lake) will be closed. All Transit Buses and Tour Buses are limited to mile 43. Additionally, the Denali Road Lottery is canceled until further notice. This is due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide.

Table of Contents

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Articles about Denali National Park and Preserve

General Information on Visiting Denali

Denali National Park Lodging

Itineraries for Denali National Park

Downloadable Itineraries for Denali National Park

Denali National Park Activity Guides

Sunset view over a braided river flowing through Denali National Park with a backdrop of the Alaska Range, highlighting the expansive, untouched wilderness.

Map of Denali National Park

Click on the Denali Map above to download the official brochure map. If you’d like a PDF copy of this Denali Map, click here.

Denali National Park Basics

  • Region: West Coast / Pacific Northwest
  • State: Alaska
  • Park Size: 4,740,911 acres (7,407.67 sq miles) (19,185.79 sq km)
  • Preserve Size: 1,304,242 acres (2,037.88 sq miles) (5,278.08 sq km)
  • Location: Denali and Matanuska-Susitna Borough
  • Closest Cities: Healy, Alaska
  • Busy Season: June to August
  • Visitation: 427,562 (2023)
  • Funniest 1-Star Review: Couldn’t WAIT to see all the wildlife, saw 1 bear way in the distance and a couple of Dell Sheep that could have been dots of snow at the top of the hill. Total waste of time. It was a 6 hour tour and was so boring I fell asleep (along with half the others on the old bus) for a couple of hours. Didn’t even see a butterfly!
  • Official Website:

How much does Denali National Park Cost?

Denali National Park and Preserve costs the following:

  • 7-day Individual Pass (Over 15 years) – $15
  • Under 15 years – Free
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When is Denali National Park Open?

Denali National Park is open year-round.

Are dogs allowed in Denali National Park?

Yes, pets are welcome in Denali National Park but are limited to developed areas such as roads, parking areas, picnic areas, and campgrounds. Pets are not allowed on the trails or in the wilderness within the park. Please review the Denali Pet Policy before bringing your dog to Denali.

Where are Denali National Park’s visitor centers?

  • Murie Science and Learning Center / Winter Visitor Center – Open Year Around
  • Denali Visitor Center – May to September
  • Eielson Visitor Center – May to September
  • Denali Bus Depot – May to September
  • Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station – May to September
  • Toklat River Contact Station – May to September

Land Acknowledgment

The National Park known as Denali National Park, sits on Upper Kuskokwim, Koyukon, Dënéndeh, Dena’ina Ełnena, Ahtna Nenn’, and Tanana land.

Thank you to the Native Land Digital for making the Indigenous territories accessible to all. They have mapped the known territories to the best of the current knowledge and is a work in progress. If you have additional information on the Indigenous nations boundaries, please let them know.

Native Land Digital is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization with the goal to creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.

When was Denali National Park Created?

Denali National Park and Preserve was created on February 26, 1917, as Mount McKinley National Park. The original park boundaries included just a portion of the current park.

In 1978, the surrounding area was declared as Denali National Monument. In 1980, as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, Mount McKinley National Park was combined with Denali National Monument to create Denali National Park and Preserve.

We protect intact, the globally significant Denali ecosystems, including their cultural, aesthetic, and wilderness values, and ensure opportunities for inspiration, education, research, recreation, and subsistence for this and future generations.

Denali National Park and Preserve Foundation Document

Fun Facts about Denali National Park

  • The highest point in Denali National Park is the summit of Denali, which is 20,310 (6,190 m) above sea level.
  • Denali, the mountain, is the tallest mountain on land. From base to summit, the mountain
  • The lowest point in Denali National Park is the Yentna River, which is 240 ft (73 m) above sea level.
  • Denali means “Great One” or “High One” in the local Athabaskan language.
  • Denali can be seen up to 200 miles away.
  • Denali’s first summit attempt took place in 1903. The first verifiable summit was achieved on June 7, 1913.
  • Denali, by the numbers
    • 92 miles of roads
    • 89.4 miles of hiking trails
    • 35.5 archeological sites

Learn more Denali Facts and Statistics here.

Close-up of vibrant purple wildflowers in the foreground with a panoramic view of the dramatic mountain landscapes and valleys of Denali National Park under a cloudy sky.

When to Visit Denali National Park

Best Time to Visit Denali National Park

The best time to visit Denali National Park is July to mid-September. Denali has a short season where most of the park is accessible, and the weather is nice. The downside to this is Denali is at its busiest during most of this time. My

Infographic titled 'Best Time to Visit Denali National Park' displays monthly data for average high and low temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit, precipitation in inches, and snowfall in inches. June to August is highlighted as the best time to go, with a visual scale indicating low and busy seasons, emphasizing the peak visitation during the warmer months with minimal snowfall and moderate precipitation.

Denali National Park Visitation

Denali National Park Visitation By Month
Line graph showing the number of visitors to Denali National Park by month from 2014 to 2023, with the peak season in July. Each year is color-coded, indicating a consistent pattern of visitation with minor fluctuations.
Denali National Park Visitation By Year
  • 2023 – 498,722
  • 2022 – 427,562
  • 2021 – 229,521
  • 2020 – 54,850
  • 2019 – 601,152
  • 2018 – 594,660
  • 2017 – 642,809
  • 2016 – 587,412
  • 2015 – 560,757

Denali National Park Weather

Line graph depicting average daily high and low temperatures in Denali National Park by month, with a significant increase in temperature from May to July and a decrease from August to October
Line graph displaying average precipitation and snowfall in Denali National Park by month, showing higher snowfall in the winter months and minimal precipitation throughout the year, with a notable increase in September.

How to Get to Denali National Park

Given how remote Alaska is and the distance between the two largest cities in Alaska, Denali is surprisingly accessible. There are a range of public transport options, and you don’t necessarily need a vehicle to explore the park.

Where is Denali National Park Located?

Denali National Park is one of the most accessible National Parks in Alaska to visit. The park is located in interior Alaska along the Parks Highway between Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska.

Here is my detailed guide for how to get to Denali National Park

Flying to Denali National Park

Informational graphic highlighting the closest airports to Denali National Park: Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), with a numbered map of Alaska showing their locations relative to Denali National Park.
Closest Airports to Denali National Park
  • Fairbanks International Airport (FAI)
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)

Use Skyscanner to get the best prices on your flights.

Driving to Denali National Park

There is one main entrance to Denali National Park.

  • Denali Entrance: The entrance is located along the Parks Highway.
Driving Time from Various Popular Alaskan Cities
  • Fairbanks – 2 hr 14 mins – 121 miles
  • Anchorage – 4 hr 9 mins – 237 miles
  • Whittier – 5 hr 21 mins – 295 miles
  • Tok – 5 hr 35 mins – 323 miles
  • Seward – 6 hr 35 mins – 361 miles
  • Valdez – 8 hr 22 mins – 461 miles
  • Homer – 8 hr 23 mins – 458 miles
Drive Times to Denali National Park from Major US Cities
City, StateDriving DistanceMilesKilometers
Albuquerque, NM60 hr3,5795,759
Anchorage, AK4 hr237381
Atlanta, GA71 hr4,3026,923
Baltimore, MD70 hr4,2806,887
Billings, MT46 hr2,6594,279
Boise, ID49 hr2,7014,346
Boston, MA73 hr4,5617,340
Charleston, SC73 hr4,4877,221
Charlotte, NC70 hr4,3326,972
Chicago, IL59 hr3,5795,760
Columbus, OH65 hr3,9396,339
Dallas, TX65 hr3,9076,288
Denver, CO53 hr3,2115,168
Detroit, MI64 hr3,8716,230
Fargo, ND50 hr2,9414,733
Houston, TX59 hr4,1466,672
Huntsville, AL68 hr4,1666,705
Indianapolis, IN62 hr3,7666,061
Jackson, MS69 hr4,1946,750
Jacksonville, FL75 hr4,6487,480
Kansas City, MO58 hr3,5355,689
Las Vegas, NV56 hr3,4015,473
Little Rock, AR65 hr3,9606,373
Los Angeles, CA58 hr3,4045,478
Louisville, KY65 hr3,8796,243
Manchester, NH74 hr4,5957,395
Miami, FL78 hr4,9667,992
Milwaukee, WI58 hr3,5075,644
Minneapolis, MN53 hr3,1725,105
Nashville, TN66 hr4,0566,527
New Orleans, LA71 hr4,3837,054
New York, NY72 hr4,3677,028
Newark, NJ71 hr4,3577,012
Oklahoma City, OK62 hr3,7055,963
Omaha, NE55 hr3,3535,396
Orlando, FL76 hr4,7407,628
Philadelphia, PA71 hr4,3376,980
Phoenix, AZ60 hr3,6435,863
Portland, OR44 hr2,4383,924
Richmond, VA71 hr4,3767,042
Salt Lake City, UT50 hr2,9834,801
San Antonio, TX66 hr4,1326,650
San Diego, CA61 hr3,5205,665
San Francisco, CA54 hr3,0724,944
Seattle, WA42 hr2,2653,645
Sioux Falls, SD53 hr3,1765,111
St. Louis, MO62 hr3,7306,003
Tampa, FL76 hr4,7587,657
Washington, DC69 hr4,2746,878
Wichita, KS60 hr3,5465,707

Public Transport to Denali National Park

Despite being located in Alaska, Denali is one of the most accessible parks in terms of public transportation. There are two public transportation options once you are in Alaska.

Alaskan Railroad

The Alaskan Railroad offers service to Denali National Park year-round as part of their service of Anchorage to Fairbanks. From mid-May to mid-September, there is daily service. During the rest of the year, there is weekend and midweek service. Here is the Denali Train schedule. The train ride is 7 hours from Anchorage and 4 hours from Fairbanks.

Buses to Denali

The Alaskan Park Connection Motorcoach offers bus service between Anchorage and Denali from June to mid-September.

What kind of rental car do you need for a Denali Visit?

Unless you are driving the Denali Road Lottery, any rental vehicle you would like will work to drive from Anchorage or Fairbanks.

I book most of my rental cars through They have a great selection of rental cars from most major agencies and the best prices – check prices here.

How Much Time Should I Spend Visiting Denali National Park?

If you have a couple of hours in Denali National Park, drive to Savage River and hike the Savage River Trail. If the mountain is out, climb the Savage Alpine Trail to the ridge for a fantastic view.

If you have one day in Denali National Park, take a bus tour past Savage River.

If you have two days in Denali National Park, in the morning, hike Horseshoe Lake and enjoy the sled dog demonstration before doing an afternoon hike to Mt. Healy or the Savage Alpine Trail.

If you have three or more days in Denali National Park, hike the Triple Lakes trail or check out a few of the guided tour offerings outside the park.

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Things to do in Denali National Park

Hiking in Denali National Park

  • Savage Alpine Loop – 4 miles (one-way) – 1,500 ft elevation gain – A one-way trail with amazing
  • Denali and Savage River views. Start at Mountain Vista and use the Savage River shuttle.
  • Triple Lakes Trail – 9.5 mile (one way) – 1,000 ft elevation gain – A one-way trail from Denali Visitor Center to Denali Park Village. The trail passes several lakes and scenic views.
  • Mt. Healy Trail – 5.4 miles – 1,700 feet elevation gain – Hike to the summit of Mt. Healy and overlook the Denali Entrance area.
  • Horseshoe Lake – 2 mile -250 ft elevation loss & gain – A short hike around a beaver created lake.

Read More about the Best Hikes in Denali

Off Trail Hiking in Denali National Park

Unlike many other national parks, off-trail hiking is allowed and encouraged in Denali. Visitors can hike anywhere they would like in the wilderness areas of the park.

Best Things to Do in Denali National Park

  • Sled Dog Kennel Tour
  • Bus Tour Past Mile 15

Best Things to See in Denali National Park

  • Denali (the Mountain)
  • Wonder Lake
  • Savage Cabin
  • Stony Hill Overlook
  • Polychrome Overlook
  • Kantishnia

Best Guided Tours of Denali National Park

Read more about the Best Denali Tours

Denali National Park Wildlife

Collage of wildlife found in Denali National Park, featuring a caribou, Dall sheep, and grizzly bear at the top, and a moose, wolf, and ptarmigan at the bottom, each with their names labeled below. The images showcase the diverse animal inhabitants of the park's ecosystem.
  • Caribou
  • Dall Sheep
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Moose
  • Wolf
  • Ptarmigan

Where to Stay in Denali National Park

Denali National Park Hotels

Hotels inside Denali National Park

  • Denali Backcountry Lodge A luxury remote lodge in the heart of Denali. Rooms start at $1,650/night/person. Book Direct.
  • Camp Denali Quaint guest cabins with amazing views. Rooms start at $675/night/person. 3 Night Minimum. Book Direct.

Hotels near Denali National Park

  • Denali Bluffs Hotel A modern rustic hotel on a bluff overlooking the Nenana River Canyon. Rooms start at $250/night. Book on
  • Denali Grizzly Bear Resort A riverside resort complex with lots of things to do. Rooms start at $309/night. Book on
  • McKinley Creekside Cabins Quaint creekside cabins a short drive from the park. Rooms start at $298/night. Book on

Read more about the Best Denali Hotels

Denali Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals

  • Denali Park Homestead House A large house that is perfect for families. Sleeps 6. Starting at 5$58/night. Book on VRBO.
  • The Taiga 2 A simple vacation rental with mountain views. Sleeps 2. Starting at $205/night. Book on VRBO.
  • Alaska Secluded Cabin A one room dry cabin. 4 wheel drive required to access. Sleeps 2. Starting at $90/night. Book on VRBO.

Denali National Park Camping

Campgrounds in Denali National Park
  • Riley Creek Campground
  • RECOMMEND: Savage River Campground
  • Sanctuary River Campground
  • Teklanika River Campground
  • Igloo Campground

Read more about the Denali Camping

Campgrounds near Denali National Park

Where to stamp your National Parks Passport Book in Denali National Park?

The National Park Passport Book is the BEST and cheapest National Park souvenir. Every National Park Obsessed person should have one of these books.

If you are new to the National Parks, you can learn more about the National Parks Passport program here or jump right in by ordering:

IMPORTANT: Do NOT stamp your government-issued passport.

There are two official Stamps for Denali National Park. Here is the list of National Park Passport Stamps you can get in Denali National Park:

  • NPS Centennial
  • Talkeetna, AK

Bonus Stamps

  • Denali Bus Depot
  • Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
  • Eielson Visitor Center
  • Murie Science & Learning Center – dinosaur footprint
  • Picture of Wonder Lake
  • Talkeetna Alaska
  • Toklat Visitor Center

Denali National Park Passport Stamp Locations

Here are all the locations to find the Denali National Park Passport Stamps. Not every stamp is available at every location.

  • Denali Bus Depot (Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska)
  • Denali Bus Depot (Denali Park)
  • Denali Visitor Center
  • Eielson Visitor Center
  • Fannie Quigley Cabin
  • Murie Science and Learning Center
  • Riley Creek Campground Mercantile
  • Toklat River Contact Station
  • Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station
  • Wonder Lake Ranger Station
Autumn in Denali National Park showcasing golden-yellow tundra against the contrasting snow-capped peaks of the Alaska Range under a clear blue sky.

Frequently Asked Questions about Denali National Park

What is the best way to see Denali?

The best time of year to visit Denali National Park is early June to mid-September. The 92-mile park road is usually fully open, the weather is pleasant, and the shuttle bus system operates.

How many days do you need in Denali?

Ideally, you need two days to explore Denali. The bus tour into the park takes 6-12 hours, so it’s a full-day adventure. The second day allows you to hike and see the dog sled demonstration.

Is going to Denali worth it?

Yes, it is. The area’s Indigenous peoples knew the mountain was special, and early explorers had similar experiences and advocated for the park’s creation. Think about it this way: Alaska got its first National Park 42 years before becoming a state of the United States. That is how special of a place Denali and the surrounding area.

What is the best month to see Denali?

If you are looking to see the mountain called Denali, the winter months offer the best visibility. If you are looking to explore the park and have a chance to see the mountain, then the summer months of June, July, August, and September are the best.

Can you explore Denali on your own?

Sort of. It is impossible to explore the park’s interior without using the shuttle bus system, but you can easily explore on your own once you get inside the park. Visitors to Denali can hike anywhere they would like.

Where should I stay in Denali without a car?

I recommend staying at one of the cruise ship passenger-focused hotels. These hotels have regular shuttles into the park, and some park tours offer pick-up at these hotels. These include Denali Bluffs Hotel, McKinley Chalet Resort, Denali Park Village, and Denali Grizzly Bear Resort.

How long is the bus ride in Denali?

The bus ride in Denali is from 4.5 to 12 hours, depending on how far you want to go into the park. Different tour and shuttle bus options depend on what you want.

DENALI ROAD CLOSURE: The Denali Park Road is closed at Mile 43. This closure is expected to remain in place until 2026. This means that all park services past mile 43 (Eielson Visitor Center, Igloo Campground, Wonder Lake) will be closed. All Transit Buses and Tour Buses are limited to mile 43. Additionally, the Denali Road Lottery is canceled until further notice. This is due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide.

What is the difference between Denali State Park and Denali National Park?

There is Denali National Park and Preserve and Denali State Park. The State Park is located along the southern edge of Denali National Park. The State Park is underdeveloped and is a popular hiking and backpacking area.

Can you see the Northern Lights from Denali?

Yes, you can see the Northern Lights in Denali National Park. Nothern Light season starts in early September to late April. The Northern Lights are only visible once the sun starts to dip below the horizon long enough to get dark.

Learn more about National Park Northern Light Viewing.

Is there cell service in Denali?

Cell service in Denali National Park is very limited. There is only cell service access along the first 3 miles of the park road. Beyond those 3 miles, there isn’t reliable cell service by any carrier.

Are there Ubers in Denali?

There is a 2017 article about the first Uber driver in the Denali area. I cannot find any information on if he is still operation or if others have joined him. But cell service can be spotty within the park so I wouldn’t rely on uber to get to and from your hotel to the visitor center.

Do you need a car in Denali National Park?

Denali National Park is one of the few National Parks you can explore without a car. There is only one park road in Denali National Park and for most of the season, its closed to personal vehicles. If you are looking to visit Denali without a car, take the train from Fairbanks or Anchorage and then use the bus system to explore the park.

National Parks Near Denali National Park

National Park Service units within a 4 hours drive

  • None

National Park Service units within an 8 hours drive

Check out nearby National Park Service Sites (accessible by air from Anchorage):

Check out nearby National Park Service Sites (accessible by air from Fairbanks):

Final Thoughts on Denali National Park

If you have any questions about Denali National Park, let us know in the comments below, or you need help planning your National Park trips. Let me know in the comments, or join me in my National Park Trip Planning Community!

Pin for Later: The Complete Guide to Visiting Denali National Park in 2024

Are you planning a trip to Denali National Park? Click here for the complete guide to visiting Denali National Park written by a National Park Expert.
Hi, I'm Jennifer!

Welcome to the wonderful world of National Parks. I'm here to help you plan your NEXT amazing adventure through the United States National Parks and beyond. I want the national parks to be accessible to all.

I live in Tennessee, and when I'm home, you can find me hiking in the Smokies and the Cumberland Plateau.

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