Denali is so much more than a national park! It is a melding of small, local, year-round communities that surround the crown jewel of Alaska National Parks. Our home is full of vibrant scenery, wildlife and opportunities for adventure. Yet we recognize that due to our rural setting, planning your Denali vacation can be overwhelming. Don’t worry – we are here to help! We have answers for all your questions, and are happy to guide you towards the lodging, activities and experiences to make this the best vacation ever.
The Denali Borough is the gateway to Denali National Park. The Denali Borough is located 250 miles north of Anchorage, and 110 miles south of Fairbanks.
There are many ways to arrive in the Denali Borough. Each option offers unique opportunities, scenery and limitations. There are two main airports in Alaska. They are Ted Stevens International Airport (Anchorage, 250 miles and approximately 5 hours south) and Fairbanks International Airport (Fairbanks, 110 miles and approximately 2 hours north).
There is NO public transportation in the Denali Borough. Some businesses do offer shuttle service to their guests. However, depending on when you visit, how you arrive for your visit and where you stay, day-to-day logistics can be challenging.
- TOUR GROUP* – If you are coming to Denali as part of a organized tour your transportation should be included. You are all set!
- TRAIN – This mode of travel offers amazing scenery, opportunity to view wildlife and a relaxed travel pace. Schedules are plentiful during the summer months, but are limited during other seasons. Train travel options can be found here.
- MOTOR-COACH – Motor-coach service is available during summer months (from Anchorage only). Contact The Park Connection for schedules and pricing.
- RENTAL CAR – If you like having freedom, or plan to stay at an establishment without shuttle service, this is your best option! Cars are available to rent at both airports, and there is also a local rental company who can coordinate local service. Contact Keys to Denali or Denali Jeep Excursions and Rentals for car rental for schedules and pricing.
- RV RENTAL – Renting an RV and having a relaxed schedule is also a great option! Check out GoNorth Car & RV Rental for rental options from both Fairbanks & Anchorage.
Every season provides different opportunities, activities and highlights.
Want to see the aurora borealis? Experience a silent landscape on snowshoes? Camp under the midnight sun?
All of these are possible in Denali.
In Denali, winter is from October through March (yes, we know that is long!). During this time, you can discover beautiful winter skies and northern lights, dog mushing, fat truck tours, outdoor hockey games, cross country skiing or snowshoeing, and much more. Be prepared for fewer lodging and dining options, knowing this is offset by what is often a slower and more immersive vacation experience. Winter Services
Discover spring in Denali from March to mid-May, depending on the year. Take advantage of returning day light and warming temperatures to recreate outside in the last snows of the year. Migrating birds return, hibernating mammals begin to wake, and leaves begin to bud while the northern lights complete their last visible dances of the season. Spring Services
Discover Denali at its most alive. From mid-May through early-August, the midnight sun returns, so you can zipline, hike, raft, or photograph the scenery, way past bedtime. This is prime time to experience the variation of ecosystems, animal life and mountain vistas that make Denali so special. You’ll have more to do, more places to eat, and more galleries and shops to visit, but you’ll share the space with 98% of our yearly visitors. Summer Services
September through October is Denali’s fall season, our shortest time of the year. Foliage explodes quickly into reds and yellow, highlighting tundra at its most beautiful while moose begin the fall rut and bears prepare for hibernation. Come pick blueberries, go horseback riding or watch the geese migrating overhead, as the days become shorter and quieter. Fall Services
With so many varied and far reaching areas of the Denali Borough, we recommend a minimum of three nights stay.
This allows for an itinerary similar to the following:
- Day of Arrival: Settle in, explore your local area and enjoy the views.
- Next Day: Travel into Denali National Park on a tour or transit bus (5 hours to 12 hours).
- Time to Explore: Participate in an excursion, explore another community or do some hiking!
Each additional day in the Denali Borough will only add to the depth of your experience. Remember, we are larger than the State of Maryland!
Visit this page for sample itineraties.
There are many options for lodging when visiting Denali. This map shows the distance between Denali Borough communities (where the majority of the accommodations are located) and Denali National Park. Driving in Alaska is more sightseeing than traffic, and a short commute from a neighboring town can actually add to your experience. You just might see a moose, but you will see something that will make you want to stop and take a picture.
Accommodations vary from small cabins with no water, to suites with all the amenities and everything in between.
There are also lodging options with the boundaries of Denali National Park. These are remote and require fly-in access, but they offer an experience like no other.
Your ideal lodging can be found by answering:
- what is your budget?
- how long do you plan to visit?
- what size group you are traveling with?
- what is your level of adventure?
- do you have personal transportation?
- what amenities are needed?
The question of personal transportation might be the most important! There are properties with shuttles and there are two local shuttle services that serve different communities in the Denali area.
Visit our community pages to see what is available in each location:
Anderson Denali Park Canyon Denali National Park McKinley Park Village Carlo Creek Cantwell Healy
Are you a lone adventurer on a budget? A family traveling with multiple generations? All these things matter when planning your Denali vacation!
Depending on your travel party, some accommodations and activities might work better than others.
Are you looking for a family vacation rental so everyone can be in the same space? Are you a backpacker looking for a hostel? Do you want to know kid friendly activities? Want to take a hike on a seldom used trail?
Visit our full directory to view all our partner categories for best planning, including group size, cost, location and more.
Camping is something Alaskan’s spend a lot of time doing in the summer months (and sometimes even in the winter). We love that visitors want to camp too! However, there are some things you need to know.
- Land use: Not all private land is marked. Just because there isn’t a “no camping” or “no trespassing” sign visible, doesn’t mean that camping is permitted. When in doubt, chose a new location! Some areas, like the Denali Hwy, are on Alaska Native land and require a permit to be purchased. Do your research.
- Campgrounds: There are private, state and federal campgrounds across Alaska and its National Parks. While some of them may be first-come-first-serve, others accept reservations. Depending on the location and time of year, campsites can book fast! We do recommend securing reservations if there is some place you have your heart set on. Denali National Park Campgrounds can be booked starting December 1 for the followign year, at www.reservedenali.com. These sites do not have power and water.
Private campgrounds have a variety of services. View our local independently owned campgrounds here: CAMP.
- Wildlife: Make sure all food is stored in provided lockers or vehicles while camping. Bear, fox, squirrels and ravens are just a few of the animals that will take advantage of food left unattended.
- Campfires: Please keep yourself appraised of fire status in the region you will be camping in. Many times, there are burn restrictions due to winds or lack of rain. When campfires are permitted, ALWAYS:
- Ensure your fire is on bare ground and not vegetative matting
- Completely enclose your campfire with a ring of rocks or a fire ring
- Have adequate water supply to completely extinguish the fire
- Ensure the fire pit is cool to the touch before departure
Activities in Denali offer everything from backcountry hiking to helicopter tours, and all sorts of adventures in between. How you experience this amazing area depends on budget, your ability and your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and get a little dirty. That often makes the adventure more fun!
There are many options for hiking both inside and outside Denali National Park.
Please be aware of local weather conditions, trail closures and where dogs are permitted.
- A list of trails inside Denali National Park can be found here.
- Trails outside (or partial inside DNP) can be found here.
- Please note, that the Denali Borough is just now receiving street addresses, and many hiking locations are marked by GPS coordinates.
Experienced hiker or backpackers looking to explore on their own should visit Denali Mountain Works. They also offer gear rental, maps, backpacking meals and specific local information.
Experience Denali on a guided excursion to explore areas off the beaten path. Traverse the spruce forest on a zipline, then afterwards snuggle a puppy at a local kennel. Take a horseback tour through a poplar grove, while looking for moose. Drive your own ATV through a local creek and later, play 9 holes of golf. Ride a helicopter, then learn photography to capture the most of your trip. Explore all of the different options available based on your desired level of activity. Activities in Denali are usually offered on a halfway basis, but if you’re looking for something more substantial, give us a call for personalized recommendations.
Alaska offers experiences for every budget, from economical to extravagant.
All kinds of people come to Alaska. College kids on a budget with a backpack. Retirees who have been saving their whole lives to splurge on their dream trip. Everyone in between. We recommend you email or call us at 907-415-1169 for personalized recommendations based on your need.