Backpacking Campsite Selection
While there are six campgrounds along the Denali Park Road, there are no established campsites in the Denali backcountry; therefore, campsite selection is very important. Plan to spend 30 minutes surveying for the best place to establish your camp. The following guidelines will assist you in this process:
- Your tent must be at least 0.5 miles away from and out of site of, the Park Road and all developed areas, including Wonder Lake.
- Camp on durable surfaces such as gravel river bars; avoid damaging fragile tundra.
- In pristine areas like Denali, avoid camping where others have camped.
- Do not move rocks or plants; leave the area as you found it so that future hikers do not see signs of your use.
Fires are not permitted in the Denali Wilderness during the summer season. Use a portable camp stove instead to heat your food and choose a durable surface such as a gravel bar or a rock to cook on. If none are available, lay a foil base beneath your stove to protect the vegetation and prevent fires.
Fuel is available for purchase at the Riley Creek Mercantile and the Wilderness Access Center, both of which are located in the immediate vicinity of the Backcountry Information Center (BIC). You can also ask for free fuel at the BIC from other visitors who have left behind white gas or the threaded, self-sealing Isobutane canisters.
When cooking, remain alert for bears; be ready to pack up and move quickly. Take a different route each time between your food storage, cooking and sleeping areas to help prevent small trails from developing.
Giardia and Cryptosporidium are protozoa found in unfiltered water and present serious health risks. Take one or more of the following precautions before drinking water from a natural source:
- Boil for 1 minute.
- Use a water filter.
- Treat with iodine tablets.
Many of Denali's rivers carry glacial silt. This silt will quickly clog any water filter and render it inoperable. The addition of silt-stopper devices is highly recommended for any water filter. Using chemicals (like iodine) to treat water is ineffective against some protozoa, and requires much longer than normal to work if the water is full of sediment or is very cold.
Neither pit nor chemical toilets are available in the backcountry. You must be prepared for proper waste disposal using the following guidelines:
- Dig a hole at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep for fecal waste in fertile soil - not in sand or among rocks.
- Such holes must be dug at least 100 feet (30 meters) - and preferably 200 feet (30 - 60 meters) away from any water source.
- Store all used toilet paper and sanitation products in sealed plastic bags, place them in the BRFC while camping, and pack them out of the wilderness.