Teklanika River Campground
Teklanika ("Tek") River Campground is at mile 29 on the Denali Park Road. The second largest campground in Denali, it offers 53 sites for RVs and tents. It is open May 20 - mid-September each year.
You may tent camp at Tek, or camp with a vehicle / RV. The rules for staying at Tek are a bit more complex than the other park campgrounds, however.
If you do not have a vehicle, you will use a special type of shuttle bus called the camper bus to reach the campground. While you are at Teklanika, you can re-use your camper bus ticket to go sight-seeing west-bound (i.e., farther into the park) on any shuttle bus (not just camper buses) during your stay. This is true whether you camp one night or a week (or longer) - your initial camper bus ticket lets you sight-see west of Tek during the entire stay. You cannot go east (i.e., back to the park entrance) until you are finished camping at Tek. This is also how tent-camping works at Wonder Lake, Igloo Creek and Sanctuary River Campgrounds. Unlike vehicle camping at Tek, tent campers at Tek have no minimum number of nights they must stay - you can just camp here one night if you wish.
Staying at Tek with a car or RV requires some extra planning and attention to detail. Normally, park visitors cannot drive more than 15 miles into the park. Camping at Tek with a vehicle lets you break that rule, as you are allowed to drive 29 miles on Denali's only road. You may stop on your way to/from the campground to sight-see (e.g., you can park at a pull-off to take photos or go on a short hike); however, once you reach the campground, your vehicle must remain parked for the duration of your stay. In addition, camping at Tek with a vehicle requires a three-night minimum stay. To sight-see during your time at Tek, you'll be able to use the shuttle bus system, as long as you purchase a special kind of ticket, called the "Tek Pass." The Tek Pass is described in more detail lower on this page.
ReservationsWhat to Expect in Tek
You may make reservations online, through a third-party reservation system. Reservations are possible as early as December 1 of the summer before you wish to visit (e.g., Dec 1, 2015 for a 2016 visit).
Tek is a very popular campground, and advanced reservations are strongly recommended. It does not fill every night of the summer, however, so you could take a chance and wait til you arrive to try booking a site. Reservations for your camper bus ticket or Tek Pass are also recommended.
Though nearly all private vehicles must turn around at mile 15, Savage River, Tek campers are an exception to that rule. If you wish, you may drive your vehicle / RV to Tek. The road between Savage River and Tek River is gravel.
If you drive your car to Tek, the trade-off for being able to drive farther into the park than most visitors is that you must make, at minimum, a three-night stay, and your vehicle must stay in your campsite for the duration of your stay. Your vehicle can only leave your campsite when you are ready to travel back to the park entrance.
If you are tent camping, you may wish to use the camper bus to access the campground. If you arrive in Tek via bus, rather than your own vehicle, there is no minimum number of nights you must stay.
No campground in Denali has electrical or water hookups for RVs. Tek does have potable water, but no shower or laundry facilities. The only water fill / dump station for RVs in the park is at Riley Creek Campground. No firewood is available for sale at Teklanika, so be sure to bring any with you before traveling to the campground. Firewood can be purchased in many locations outside of the park, or at the Riley Creek Mercantile.
Tek is a forested campground, with some screening between sites. Much of the surrounding area is brushy and wet, although the Tek River is braided and offers an easy, gravel surface for hiking. Be cautious if you choose to cross the Tek, and keep an eye out for wildlife closures in the area.
Tek is the only campground in Denali where red squirrels live alongside ground squirrels. Other small animals, like snowshoe hares and gray jays, are common. Larger animals, like grizzly bears, moose and caribou are occasionally seen. Such animals are more commonly seen along the Tek River itself, which is both a good wildlife travel corridor and comparatively less brushy.
Caution: Soft "Shoulders"
The edges of the gravel road are soft, and can be particularly soft in times of wet weather - so, be very careful about driving near the edge of the gravel road. The word "shoulder" isn't really an appropriate description of the road edges, as steep ditches are often immediately on either side of the road.
The road between Savage River and Tek is wide enough for two buses to drive abreast of each other, so you should not need to veer onto the road edge as long as you are driving at or below the speed limit. If you pause to view wildlife, however, you will want to get as far over as you safely can, so traffic may proceed around if need be. Also, be forewarned that the road is very winding, and going too fast around a corner can lead to trouble. Please drive with caution.
Your Ticket to the Park - the Tek Pass
Campers who drive an RV or car to Tek are encouraged to purchase a "Tek Pass."
The Tek Pass should be purchased for each member of your party. It allows you to use the park shuttle buses throughout your stay at Tek Campground, for the price of just one trip.
When you purchase a Tek Pass, you will select the first day you wish to use it (likely your first or second day in the campground), and will select a specific bus for that day. This bus of your choosing will have guaranteed seats for you, on the day and time you chose. On subsequent days during your time at Tek, you may use any shuttle bus, boarding at your campground on a space-available basis.
All shuttles begin their trip into the park with four empty seats, and many shuttles do not run at maximum capacity - so while Tek campers sometimes find a full shuttle, and must wait for the next, such occasions are rare, especially for small parties.
The Tek Pass is designed for you to experience points farther in the park during your stay. Therefore, the pass only allows you to travel farther into the park, and back to Tek. If you return to the park entrance by bus, you will have to buy a new shuttle bus ticket to travel back to Tek Campground. Do not return to the park entrance, by bus or your own vehicle, until you are finished with your stay at Tek.
Learn more about shuttle buses
Necessities. Restrooms can be found throughout the campground. Potable water is available at spigots throughout the campground. All sites have a picnic table and fire grate (see below).
Be courteous. Quiet hours are between 10 pm and 6 am. Generators may only be operated from 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 8 pm. There are no exceptions to these rules.
Wildlife & food storage. Keep all food and scented items (e.g., toothpaste, sunscreen, ice chests/coolers, etc.) in your hard-sided vehicle. If you are tent-camping without a vehicle, use the food lockers found throughout the campground. Label and date your items in the food locker. Keep a clean camp and wash your dishes immediately. Learn more about wildlife safety.
Fire. Fires are allowed only in established grates. Wood may be purchased at the Riley Creek Mercantile. Use of power saws and cutting of live vegetation or standing deadwood are prohibited. Do not leave your campfire unattended. Do not cook on fire grates - use foil, and immediately dispose of it after cooking.
Pets. Pets are welcome at Tek. Dispose of pet feces in garbage cans. Secure pet food in your vehicle or a food locker. Pets are not allowed on buses. Learn more about camping with your pet.
Tow vehicles. Because you are traveling farther into the park via personal vehicle than is normally allowed, you may only tow a vehicle to Tek if the towed vehicle is integral to your camping experience (e.g., a pickup truck towing your camper). All other towed vehicles and trailers must be left at the RV parking lot of the Denali Visitor Center.
Learn about ranger programs in Teklanika
A map of the area around Teklanika Campground. Note: There are no formal trails in the area, but hiking off-trail is permitted anywhere except areas signed as being closed.