THING TO DO

Sightsee on a Denali Tour Bus

a bus driving on a dirt road on the side of a mountain
A particularly beautiful day for a tour bus trip in Denali, as seen from Polychrome Mountain (approximately Mile 45 on the park road)

NPS Photo / Chris Smith

Denali is a unique park in many ways.

There is just one road in the park, and traffic on most of it is regulated to prevent congestion, preserve a wilderness experience for sight-seers and reduce stress on wildlife. Travel on the road is mainly limited to a variety of bus trips.

  • Tour buses are narrated.
  • Tundra Wilderness and Kantishna Experience Tours include a box lunch and hot beverage.
  • Restroom breaks occur about every 90 minutes
  • Wildlife viewing stops will occur any time animals can be seen.
Passengers stay with their bus for the duration of the trip. Some tours offer opportunities for short walks, while others will only disembark passengers for bathroom breaks.

Comparison of Tour Bus Choices

Tour Name Duration (round-trip) Destination Description
Natural History Tour 4.5-5 hours Mile 27

Focusing on the rich natural and cultural history of the park, this 4 ½ to 5 hour tour travels to Teklanika River (Mile 27).

Tundra Wilderness Tour 7-8 hours Mile 53, Toklat River

Variations of this tour have been in existence since 1923, with the first concessioner offering bus trips as far as the road extended at that time.

Today, it is a 7-8 hour excursion into the park with a certified driver-naturalist. Going to at least Toklat River (mile 53), this tour provides in-depth information about the history of the park, while maintaining a keen eye in search of wildlife and photography opportunities.

Kantishna Experience Tour 12 hours Mile 92, Kantishna Follow the trail of pioneer Fannie Quigley to the old gold town of Kantishna on this all-day adventure to the end of the Park Road. Your driver is a Certified Interpretive Guide and a National Park Service interpretive ranger joins you roughly halfway through your journey on this immersive experience. You will spend time in Kantishna learning about its interesting history and role in Interior Alaska.

Notes:
  • Trip durations account for restroom stops, wildlife viewing, and any off-bus programs that occur.
  • Destinations indicate how many miles into the park your tour travels before turning around (i.e., the Natural History Tour travels 17 miles, to a place called Primrose Ridge, before returning to the park entrance).
Details

When you buy a tour bus ticket, you'll choose how long of a trip to undertake. Choices are 5, 8, or 12 hours round-trip. Durations include stops for wildlife viewing, bathroom breaks, and more. 

There are no minimum ages; but state of Alaska child safety laws mean that kids under age 4 must be in a car seat. Car seats are not provided by the bus company, so please bring your own.

Pets are not allowed on shuttle buses.

Ticket prices vary depending on the duration of the trip. Please visit the tour bus company's website to find current prices.

Tour buses start from many different locations. Please check your ticket or inquire with the tour bus company for your starting location. 

If your visit will be short (e.g., 3 days or less), reservations are strongly recommended. Please visit the tour bus company's website to book in advance. 

Visitors who will be in the Denali area for more than a few days may find it more convenient to wait until arriving and purchase tickets in the park, at the Wilderness Access Center.

The summer season in Denali is from May 20 to mid-September. There are short tours occasionally available a few weeks before and after summer; contact the tour bus company for details.

Bus trips operate all day, though most departures are before noon. 

Accessibility Information
  • Several buses each day are equipped with wheelchair lifts. Please be sure to notify the bus company of this need when making reservations.
  • Rest areas where buses stop offer wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.
  • Most of the park road and rest areas are well-compacted gravel surfaces. Only the first 15 miles of the park road are paved.

Last updated: April 12, 2018