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
Difficulty
Description
Friday, July 31 Mile 11
Moderate (800' gain) Join Ranger Bill for a magical front country hike into a world of vistas, wildlife signs, and joy. There will be less riding and more hiking. Our bus ride is free!
Friday, July 31
Mile 60.5 Strenuous (1700' gain) Join me for an adventurous hike up and down a steep tundra covered mountainside while we explore nature, perform belly botany, roll around on the tundra and look for signs of wildlife.
Saturday, August 1 Mile 27
Moderate (negligible gain)
"Where we are going, we don't need roads" as Dr. Brown famously said;and he was right. Hiking up the Teklanika river into the narrows, we will wander through brush where road fears to tread.
Saturday, August 1 Mile 65
Moderate (646' gain) Take a leisurely stroll up a tundra bench to feel the tundra under your feet and look for signs of wildlife.
Sunday, August 2
Mile 34
Moderate (800' gian) Come along to check out the creepy Igloo Forest! We will be walking on the spongy mossy floor looking for scat and other signs of wildlife, in search of kettle ponds and migrating birds. Then, we will climb a ridge to get a view of the surrounding Teklanika River.
Sunday, August 2
Mile 60.5
Moderate (600' gain) We will take a leisurely trek up the side of Stony Dome and over tundra benches while watching for signs of wildflowers/ berries, wildlife, and mountain views.
Monday, August 3
Mile 21
Strenuous (1,900' gain) Let's go for a hike! Watch as the plant community changes from dense, challenging shrubs to delightful alpine tundra as we hike up to Primrose Ridge. Weather permitting, the reward for our efforts will be spectacular views of the Alaska Range!
Monday, August 3
Mile 49
Moderate (310' gain) In search of fleetingly beautiful wildflowers? Scanning the hills to find 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 4
Mile 33
Strenuous (2,000' gain) Want to go summit to summit? Let's take a ridge walk and hike up to hilltop down a saddle and onto the next hilltop! The hills surrounding Igloo mountain are breathtaking! Let's go!
Tuesday, August 4
Mile 49
Moderate (939' gain) Come on an adventure up a drainage of Polychrome Mountain. Along the way we will check out a variety of wildflowers and animal signs.
Wednesday, August 5
Mile 21

Strenuous (1,300' gain) We'll take a short bus ride and disembark to explore the west side of Primrose, taking a long walk through the tundra up to amazing views of the Wilderness.
Wednesday, August 5
Mile 59
Moderate (900' gain) On this hike, we will travel along the open tundra, gradually climbing above the highest point on the Denali Park Road. Along the way, we will search colorful wildflowers, signs of wildlife, and other wild discoveries!
Thursday, August 6
Mile 31
Strenuous (1,500' gain) Join me for a challenge! We're gonna do it all: cross rivers, power through thick brush, power up slopes and ski across scree. Prepare to get wet, work hard, learn about the park, and about yourself.
Thursday, August 6
Mile 57
Moderate (500' gain) Join me for a walk through the tundra foothills of the Alaska Range as we search for signs of life and enjoy the day!
Friday, August 7
Mile 20.5
Strenuous (2,000' gain)
Feeling adventurous? Want to get off the beaten path to experience Denali in a different way? Join me for a challenging hike through brush to reach alpine tundra where we can search for signs of wildlife and take in the expansive views from the ridge.
Friday, August 7
Mile 60
Moderate (720' gain) Join me for an adventurous hike up and over Stony Hill while we look for signs of wildlife, wildflowers, roll in the tundra and experience wilderness.

Did You Know?