Getting a Backcountry Permit
Permits are available at the Backcountry Information Center (BIC) located adjacent to the Wilderness Access Center. The BIC is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily during the summer - however, the permitting process takes about an hour, so please arrive by 5 pm to start the process. Advanced reservations are not available, and permits are only issued in person.
Investing time in familiarizing yourself with Denali's backcountry beforehand will aid in the permit process once you arrive. However, because there is no way of knowing which backcountry units will be available until you arrive at the Backcountry Information Center to obtain your permit you should be prepared to be flexible. It is recommended to research ahead of time backcountry units you are most interested in, having at least two or three ideas in mind when you come in to obtain your permit. The rangers here will help you to find an open unit based on the planning you have done along with your goals and abilities.
Things to consider are: how many nights you want to backpack; how much time you want to spend on a bus, traveling to your unit; how much of the park you want to see, both while hiking and while on the bus; and how comfortable you are with challenges like river crossings, mountain passes, brush or steep snow slopes. You can also research the types of terrain the park offers so you can cross-reference the type of trip you want with the available units. Spectacular scenery and wildlife are found throughout the backcountry, though the specific types of scenery and wildlife do vary.
Remember to be conservative when predicting your daily mileage. There are no trails, and travel can be slow and difficult in brushy areas or when fording glacial rivers. Upon your arrival at the BIC, several additional resources will be available to assist you in planning your trip, including unit description guides, local maps, and knowledgeable Backcountry Rangers. Your flexibility is important to the success of your trip.
You can use the unit descriptions in the Denali backcountry camping and hiking guide to help plan your itinerary.
Step 2: Watch the Backcountry Safety Video
Following the video, all party members must be present for a brief safety talk by a Backcountry Ranger. You will then receive your free backcountry permit and Bear Resistant Food Container that is required for proper food storage. You must sign your permit in recognition that you understand all backcountry rules and regulations. Violations of the conditions of the permit may result in adverse impacts to park resources and legal consequences.
Access to most park backcountry units requires use of the Visitor Transportation System (VTS), also known as the shuttle bus system. Camper buses are a type of shuttle, built to accommodate people and their gear. They depart from the Wilderness Access Center (WAC) several times a day. To secure space for your party, you should purchase tickets at the WAC soon after obtaining your backcountry permit.