Discovery Hikes

A park ranger speak to to a group of four visitors next to the Park Road.

A ranger speaks with his well-prepared hikers at the Park Road, before setting off into the trail-less wilderness.

NPS Photo / Neil Blake

Discovery Hikes are a great way for the adventurous and well-prepared to explore the heart of Denali.

These ranger-led hikes travel everywhere, so expect uneven terrain, small stream crossings, close encounters with dense vegetation and unpredictable weather. Along the way, you can engage the park with all your senses and build memories of this special kind of "walk in the park."

How to Join a Hike

"Disco" hikes are offered daily during the summer, and are limited to 11 people. This limit exists because discovery hikes take place in the wilderness, where there are no trails - the limited number helps reduce human impacts on vegetation and facilitates a small-group experience.

You may sign up for a hike one to two days in advance, and you can only sign up in person at the Denali Visitor Center. There are no exceptions to this rule. For safety concerns, rangers may turn away unprepared hikers.

Please read our preparation guide for more details on how to ready yourself for this specialized program.

Where You'll Go

All disco hikes begin with a bus ride into the park, originating from the Wilderness Access Center. Plan on a bus ride lasting anywhere from one to four hours, to hike for three to five hours, and then a similar-length bus ride back to the park entrance. The disco bus leaves at 8 am every morning.

These ranger-led adventures vary from moderate (elevation gain less than 1,000 feet) to strenuous (elevation gain more than 1,000 feet, or will involve large river crossings). They may start from just about anywhere on the Park Road, which is why the bus ride has such a wide range of duration (i.e., the closer to the park entrance your hike begins, the shorter your bus ride will be).

Upcoming Hikes

Hikes begin on June 8 each year. Two occur each day thereafter, until they end in early September. Refer to the park map to find place name locations.

Date Location
Friday, August 21
Mile 32
Moderate (200' gain)
Feeling adventurous? Want to get off the beaten path to experience Denali in a different way? Join Ranger Danielle for a hike along the Teklanika River and a return through boreal forest while exploring rocks and searching for signs of wildlife.
Friday, August 21
Mile 54
Moderate (150' gain) Join me on this moderate hike over tundra, through brush, and along an ever changing braided river while we look for signs of wild life, wildflowers, and experience a bit of wilderness.
Saturday, August 22 Mile 30
Strenuous (1500' gain)
Join me for a beautiful fall hike through the changing colors and landscape of the Teklanika hills. We will march through marsh, up a ridge to some beautiful rock formations that overlook the might Teklanika River.
Saturday, August 22
Mile 47
Moderate (488' gain) Come take a leisurely stroll along a stream bed to climb up onto tundra benches to spot evidence of wildlife while examining the ever changing tundra.
Sunday, August 23
Mile 31
Moderate (negligible gain) The Teklanika tromp traverses tricky terrain tangential to a tranquil tributary. Tip-toe through the timeless topography!
Sunday, August 23
Mile 64
Moderate (780' gain) Come take a leisurely hike as we climb up on tundra benches to look for beautiful mountain views, signs of wildlife, and any end-of- the- season wildflowers and berries.
Monday, August 24
Mile 36
Moderate (1000' gain) When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve that which connected us to civilization, one must strike out into the wilds that surround and declare the causes that impel them to the separation. Join me for a hike.
Monday, August 24
Mile 49
Moderate (837' gain) In search of vibrant autumn colors? Scanning the hills for charismatic Alaskan wildlife? Have your sights on exceptional geology? Join Ranger Ali on a tundra hike where you just might find what you have been seeking in the Denali Wilderness all along
Tuesday, August 25
Mile 12 Moderate (560' gain Who’s up for a challenge? Let’s get in touch with the wilderness as we work our way up through the creek beds of Denali’s front country. We’ll sample the fall berries, look for signs of wildlife, do some bushwhacking, and get our feet wet on the spongy tundra!
Tuesday, August 25
Mile 49
Strenuous (1256' gain) Come on an adventure up a drainage of Polychrome Mountain. Along the way we will check out a variety of plants and animal signs.
Wednesday, August 26
Mile 36

Moderate (930' gain) Our hike up one of Cathedral Mountain’s drainages will give a great look at nature and ourselves.
Wednesday, August 26
Mile 62
Moderate (800' gain) Explore the alpine tundra with me as we admire autumn colors and search for the last flowers of the season. We will discuss the meaning of Wilderness as we hike across ancient caribou trails and look for signs of life. Be sure to bring warm layers.
Thursday, August 27
Mile 22
Moderate (negligible gain) Visit the Sanctuary River wildlife super highway to see the fall colors explode around scat prints and bones.
Thursday, August 27
Mile 55 Strenuous (1360' gain) Join me for this moderately strenuous hike up a drainage, through brush, and over tundra while we look for signs of wildlife, plants, and experience wilderness.
Friday, August 28
Mile 23
Moderate (482' gain)
Bring your sense of curiosity on this off-trail hike as we explore the boreal forest in search of signs of wildlife and hidden blueberry patches.
Friday, August 28
Mile 55
Moderate (negligible gain) Join me for a casual walk along Caribou Creek and the Toklat River. We will cross the creek several times, so count on wet shoes/boots. Bring your curiosity and questions, we will stop several times to look at plants & animal tracks along the gravel bar.

Did You Know?