Denali

Home to North America’s tallest peak, Denali has been a mecca for mountaineering and adventuring for more than a century. Today, the park continues to enchant climbers, pack-rafters, skiers, dog mushers and athletes seeking to test themselves against the raw, unchecked power of a truly wild landscape.

 

Denali has only one road, and only one road entrance.
Called the Denali Park Road (or simply “the park road”), it is 92 miles long and runs from east to west. It is a scenic road made mostly of dirt and gravel. It starts in a low, forested area, but rises and falls through mountain passes (and along some precipitous mountain sides!) on its journey west.

The park entrance, where the Denali Park Road meets Alaska Highway 3, is at the eastern end of the park. Like many rural roads and landmarks in Alaska, the Denali entrance is referred to by its mile along the highway. In this case, the park entrance is at Mile 237 on Highway 3 (Mile 0 is in Anchorage, where Highway 3 originates).

Summer travel in Denali
In the summer (May 20—the middle of September), privately-owned vehicles may drive the first 15 miles of the park road, to a place called Savage River. Travel beyond Savage River is mainly limited to a variety of narrated and non-narrated buses, and passengers must board their bus near the park entrance (or in some cases, at their hotel outside of the park). Bus trips are a great way to see the landscape and wildlife of the park.

The National Park Service does not run a lodge or hotel 
There are six campgrounds in Denali, but no NPS-run lodging. Learn more about lodging in the area.
denali sun

Summer is the main visiting season. Summer bus service begins May 20 each year, although the entire road is not open to buses until June 8. Shuttle buses operate through the second week after Labor Day each year. The exact day bus service ends will vary year to year. Sightseeing by bus on Denali’s sole road is a major activity in summer.

Trail Map

Most visitor services and activities are available between late May and early September. During this time, the park’s main visitor center is open daily, 8 am – 6 pm. By June 8, all park campgrounds are open. There are no NPS-run hotels in Denali, so we suggest you use the local Chamber of Commerce for help in researching lodging options.

Trails:

TrailDescriptionTimeDistance
Bike PathTravels right along the Denali Park Road, between the entrance and the visitor center. Little elevation change. The surface is well-compacted gravel. 5% maximum grade, 10' width.45 minutes one-way from the Denali Visitor Center1.7 miles
Horseshoe Lake TrailA popular trail that descends to, and travels entirely around, a lake. The surface is five feet wide, with uneven soil with rocks and roots. It begins with a short, steep uphill to a bench overlooking the lake. The trail then descends 250' steeply to the shore of the lake. The trail grade averages 5% with sections up to 20%.1 hour one-way from its trailhead.3.2 miles
Jonesville TrailA steep shortcut from Riley Creek Campground to the Canyon, the business district outside the park. It has a surface of compacted gravel. From west to east, it drops about 150 feet.10 minutes one-way from either trailhead0.3 mile
McKinley Station TrailDescend from the visitor center to Hines and Riley Creeks, and pass under the Alaska Railroad trestle. The trail is compacted gravel. It has an 8.5% grade maximum, dropping ~100 feet in the process via one long, gently sloping hill. The trail is 5' wide.1 hour one-way from the Denali Visitor Center1.6 miles
Meadow View TrailA very narrow trail (about 30" wide) overlooking a meadow, forming a short connection between Rock Creek and Roadside Trails. The trail is relatively level, but has a steep drop to one side.15 minutes from either trailhead0.3 mile
Morino TrailA short trail through spruce forest. Good for a quick walk while waiting on a bus or train.15 minutes one-way from its trailhead0.2 mile
Mount Healy Overlook TrailAn increasingly steep hike out of the forest and into the alpine country, with potential views of Denali, if skies are clear. The trail surface is rough soil with rocks and roots. Eventually becomes very steep, maxing at a 25% grade. Generally 24" wide.2 hours one-way from the Denali Visitor Center2.7 miles
Parks Hwy Bike TrailPaved path alongside Highway 3.30 minutes one-way1.0 mile
Roadside TrailTravels uphill from the visitor center to the sled dog kennels and park headquarters. Runs generally uphill from east to west, up to a 15% grade; generally 36" wide.1 hour one-way from the Denali Visitor Center1.8 miles
Rock Creek TrailOccasionally steep trail through forest. Similar route to Roadside, but a bit longer and much quieter, as it's farther from the road. Runs generally uphill from east to west, up to 15% grade; generally 30" wide.1.5 hours one-way from the Denali Visitor Center2.4 miles
Spruce Forest TrailA short trail through spruce forest. Good for a quick walk while waiting on a bus or train. 0% grade change, with a width of about 5 feet.20-minute loop0.2 mile
Taiga TrailA short, forested trail mainly used to access Horseshoe Lake from the visitor center. The surface is gravel, with open steps across ditches. Grade is about 5% with sections up to 15%, 24" wide.45 minutes one-way from the Denali Visitor Center0.9 mile
Triple Lakes TrailDenali's longest trail, with bridges over two creeks and great views of three lakes. The surface is a mix of compacted gravel, soils, rocks, roots, and sections of planks over marshy ground. The trail is up to 20% grade at times, generally 24" wide.5 hours one-way from the Denali Visitor Center9.5 miles
Mountain Vista TrailLocated at Mountain Vista Rest Area, at Mile 13 of the Denali Park Road. Can be accessed by the free Savage River Shuttle and private vehicle, with ample parking available. The trail has a 5% maximum grade and is 6 feet wide.30-minutes, loop0.6 mile total
Savage AlpineConnects Savage River and the Mountain Vista day use areas. Parking available at either end. Use free Savage River Shuttle to return to your vehicle. Considered strenuous, the trail has steep sections up to 25% grade and is generally 24" wide.Three hours, one way from Mountain Vista Trailhead4 miles, one way
Savage River LoopLocated at the Savage River at Mile 15. Very limited parking available. Can be accessed by free Savage River Shuttle. On the western half of this loop, the first quarter-mile of the trail is around 2 feet wide and very flat; gradually the trail narrows and has more impediments like rocks and uneven surfaces.90 minute loop2 miles, total
Tundra LoopFrom the Eielson Visitor Center, at Mile 66 of the Denali Park Road, this short loop explores alpine tundra. Negligible grade change and generally two feet or wider at all times.15 minute loop0.3 mile, total
Thorofare Ridge TrailFrom the Eielson Visitor Center, this switchback trail climbs to a ridge for high, scenic views of Denali and a vast expanse of tundra beyond.One hour, one way from Eielson Visitor Center0.8 mile, one way
McKinley River Bar TrailFrom a road junction approaching Wonder Lake Campground, this trail passes through wet meadows and enters spruce forest, and ends at the McKinley River90 minutes, one way from its trailhead2.4 miles, one way
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