DENALI PARK, Alaska -- Telephone and online reservations are open
for the summer season for Denali National Park and Preserve shuttle
buses, bus tours and the park's four largest campgrounds: Riley
Creek, Savage River, Teklanika River and Wonder Lake.
About 300,000 people visit the 6-million-acre park each year,
two-thirds by motorcoach.
To enter the interior of the preserve, coach passengers change
to a local tour bus or a park shuttle bus -- vehicles more suited
to the passes that wind along mountain ledges. Cars are not allowed
in the park's interior, except by permit.
Riley Creek, near the entrance to the park, is open all year.
It's the largest campground in the Park, with 102 sites for tents,
trailers and campers. Rates range from $12 to $18.
Teklanika River, the second largest campground, provides 50
sites for tents and motorhomes from May to September. Rates range
from $16 to $20.
Hikers should be aware that the Teklanika rest stop, just beyond
the campground, is the last rest room until Polychrome Overlook, 24
The paved road ends at Savage River bridge, and the Savage River
campground, 13 miles from the entrance, is as far as private
vehicles are allowed to travel without a permit.
Once the site of a park headquarters, the campground is open
from May to September and offers 34 tent, trailer and camper sites.
Rates per night are $18 to $20.
Nearby Primrose Ridge provides trails for hikers and photo-ops
At this point, the landscape begins to change from tiaga forest
-- the white and black spruce, quaking aspen and paper birch that
are found along the rivers in the park's valleys -- to tundra, a
landscape of tiny plants growing close to the ground that at
elevations above 7,200 feet is replaced by a blanket of lichens and
mosses and rocks.
At Wonder Lake campground, which has 28 tent sites, visitors can
launch canoes and kayaks, but motorboats are forbidden. Wonder
Lake, open June to September, is 85 miles from Riley Creek and the
Parks Highway. Rates are $16 to $20.
Each of the four main campgrounds has flush toilets.
Because Wonder Lake and some of the smaller campgrounds are
accessible only by bus, camper buses take campers and their gear
into the park.
Teklanika campers can drive their vehicles to that campground
but are subject to a three-night minimum stay. They are not
permitted to leave and reenter the park.
When making campsite reservations, reserve a seat on the camper
bus ($18.50 for adults, $9.25 for ages 15 to 17. Children age 14
and under are free on all shuttle and camper buses). Return
reservations are not necessary for camper buses. Campers may board
any shuttle to exit the park. Bus schedules are available at the
For those who are visiting just for the day, the bus and shuttle
tours offer wildlife viewing and interpretive information on the
park's big five: caribou, moose, Dall sheep, grizzly bears and
Mount McKinley -- which is located inside the park and which locals
call by its Athabascan name, "Denali," or "the High One."
The mountain, part of the Alaska Range, is the highest in North
America, reaching an elevation of 20,320 feet.
Campsite reservations may be made by calling (800) 622-7275
between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Alaska Standard Time, seven days a week.
Online reservations are available 24 hours a day at www.reservedenali.com. For more information on the
park, visit www.nps.gov/dena.