Mountain Vista

A snow-covered trail leads to a snowy parking lot with a view of mountains in the distance. One car is parked next to a few small wooden outhouses.
The Mountain Vista parking area and trailhead in mid-February.

NPS Photo / Katie Karnes

Hours and Seasons

This part of the park is technically open 24 hours a day. Camping in the area is only permitted at Savage River Campground or in the backcountry with a backpacking permit. See below for access options by bus and car, depending on the time of year.

Access

The Mountain Vista area is located near the end of the paved and publicly-accessible portion of the Denali Park Road. In summer we highly recommend taking the free bus, called the Savage River Shuttle, as available parking is extremely limited.

Beginning around February 15 each year, conditions dependent, the Mountain Vista area is accessible by driving to Mile 13. The drive gains 1,400 feet (about 400 meters) of elevation, so please drive slowly and cautiously both directions.

Please note that in fall, winter, and spring, snow or ice may close the park road at Mile 3 (Park Headquarters). The road typically closes to vehicular traffic at Mile 3 in the fall once the first wintry weather makes road conditions deteriorate. Check the Current Conditions page to see how far the road is open to traffic.

  • By foot: Year-round
    Depending on conditions, you're welcome to ski, bike or hike out to this part of the park year-round. In winter, this typically means a journey of 10 miles one-way (assuming you start from Park Headquarters (Mile 3), which is typically as far as you can drive a vehicle), so be prepared for a long day if traveling in winter.

  • By bus: Summer
    As mentioned below, the Savage River Shuttle is a free bus ride out to this area. Bus service is roughly May 15 to mid-September. Using the bus is highly recommended, as parking often fills up at Mountain Vista, especially in the middle of the day.

  • By car: Spring, summer, fall
    In the fall, the road closes whenever wintry weather sets in. Sometimes this is late September, while in other years it's not until late October. We begin plowing the park road in February. The road is generally open to Mountain Vista (Mile 13) by mid-February and to Teklanika (Mile 30) by mid-April.

 

Know Before You Go

  • In summer you can ride the free shuttle to, or attempt to find parking at, either the Mountain Vista Rest Stop (Mile 13) or the Savage Rest Area (Mile 15). Savage River Campground is situated between the two day-use areas. Trails connect the two areas, or you can walk the road.

  • The parking area can get full nearly every day in summer. We recommend using the shuttle when possible, which you can catch at the Denali Visitor Center (or several other buildings near the park entrance).

  • The Savage River Shuttle can accommodate up to two bikes at a time.

  • Mountain Vista can be very windy, so bring layers. It is also several hundred feet higher in elevation than the park entrance, so it can be a bit chillier than conditions at the visitor center.

  • Bikes are not allowed on the Mountain Vista loop trail, or any of the summer hiking trails except the Roadside Bike Path (located back at the park entrance area). However, the park road acts as one giant trail if bikers don’t mind vehicle traffic (and dust during dry conditions).

 

Time Commitment

  • By bus: The answer depends on the time of summer. The Savage River Shuttle makes several stops near the park entrance to pick up passengers, so it takes about an hour for the shuttle to travel from the entrance of the park to Mountain Vista. It then takes a similar amount of time to return, so that means a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally you'll disembark to explore Mountain Vista and catch the bus later in the day to travel to the park entrance. In early and late summer, bus service is less frequent. This might add more time to your journey; review the bus schedule for details.

  • By car: The speed limit is 35 mph, so it'll take you around half an hour to drive, assuming you make no stops (you're welcome to pause at pullouts to enjoy the scenery, or pull fully and safely to the shoulder of the road if you spot wildlife). Thus the true minimum amount of time needed is an hour. Remember that parking is limited and fills quickly in the middle of the day, so using the free shuttle is encouraged.

  • By ski or bike: This will depend on the trail conditions and if the road is plowed or a trail has been set by a dog team or groomer. In winter, check out the Where Are They Now? section of the kennels webpage to determine if the dog teams have been mushing on the park road recently.

 

Things to do at Mountain Vista

Last updated: March 21, 2022

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park , AK 99755

Phone:

907 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am to 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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