Defining Fall and Spring
Most visitors come to Denali in summer, which runs May 20 until the second weekend after Labor Day (so, mid-September) each year. Summer is the only time of year when buses operate within the park.
However, a visit in spring or fall can be rewarding, though services and activities are limited. Mountains are often snow-capped and dramatic, accentuating Denali's beautiful and stark wilderness. Wildlife is either shaking off the deep-freeze of winter or cramming in the last bit of living before winter's return in October.
We aim to keep the alerts on our website up to date concerning road conditions in the park; but keep in mind that it takes nearly five hours to drive to Denali from Anchorage, during which time the weather can turn icy or snowy. Even if the road is closed when you arrive, there are many opportunities to recreate in the front-country of the park.
The Denali Chamber of Commerce provides information about year-round accommodations, which are available in nearby communities. There is no public transportation in the Denali area outside the summer season, so most visitors in the spring & fall rent a vehicle before traveling to the park. Within the park, there are no bus services during the spring and fall. Glance at our event calendar to see if any ranger-led programs might be available.
Visiting in Autumn / Early Winter
A visitor in mid-September through mid-October could find pleasant fall conditions, or fresh snow, freezing temperatures and the return of winter. Use our zip code - 99755 - on your favorite weather website to get an idea of the current forecast. You can also check out our webcams to get a sense of what the weather is doing.
Getting Here, Access Into the Park
Daily train and bus service to the park from Anchorage and Fairbanks typically ends in mid-September. Fall visitors will almost certainly need to rent a car and drive here on their own, on Alaska Route 3 (the "George Parks Highway").
Transit bus service traveling along the Denali Park Road ends the second Thursday after the Labor Day holiday each year. After bus service ends, the park hosts a multi-day event called Road Lottery.
After Road Lottery, the park road remains open to Teklanika River (Mile 30) for all private vehicle traffic as long as conditions allow. Once snow falls, the road is only plowed to Park Headquarters (Mile 3). Snow and ice are possible throughout September, however, so feel free to contact us for weather and road information before journeying to the park.
What to Do in the Fall
Where to Stay in the Fall
Visiting in Late Winter / SpringA visitor in April or early May could find spring-like conditions, or the lasting grip of winter.
However, snow is possible throughout April and even early May. The road can close temporarily at Park Headquarters (mile 3) during the spring if conditions deteriorate.
Getting Here, Access Into the ParkDaily train and bus service to the park from Anchorage and Fairbanks typically begin in mid-May. Spring visitors may need to rent a car and drive here on their own.
Transit bus service traveling along the Denali Park Road does not begin until May 20 each year. Narrated tour bus service begins about a week earlier.
Every year, road crews begin plowing the park road in March. Depending largely on the weather, the road can open to Savage River (mile 15) for public traffic as early as the first weekend in April. The road crews try to open the road to Teklanika River (mile 30) as quickly thereafter as possible.
What to Do in Spring
Where to Stay in Spring
Last updated: September 21, 2020