Denali National Park and Preserve is rock- and ice-robed in tundra and stands of stunted black spruce, a huge slice of the Alaska Range that stands like a pivot in the center of Alaska. It encompasses 6 million acres, a roughly triangular polygon about 20% larger than Massachusetts. The only park entrance is 237 miles north of Anchorage and 120 miles south of Fairbanks on the paved George Parks Highway or the Alaska Railroad. Although Mount McKinley is visible from as far away as Anchorage, you can't see it at all from the park entrance (where you will find the railroad depot and all the services accessible by private vehicle) because it's on the far side of the park. A mile north of the park entrance on the Parks Highway, along a cliff-sided canyon of the Nenana River, is Glitter Gulch, the local term for the seasonal roadside strip that's home to hotels and restaurants; it's also called Nenana Canyon, and local boosters want to stamp out the name "Glitter Gulch," but I keep using it because it is the common name (and descriptive, too). Other services are at Carlo Creek, 13 miles south on the Parks Highway; at another roadside development 7 miles south of the park entrance; and in the year-round town of Healy, 12 miles north of the park entrance. From the park entrance, a road accessible only by shuttle bus leads west 89 miles through the park, past a series of campgrounds and a visitor center, and ends at the Kantishna district, a patch of park-surrounded private land with wilderness lodges.


Park entrance fees are $20 per vehicle (up to eight passengers) or $10 per person, good for 7 days. There is no entrance station to collect the fee, but it is automatically added to your bill when you make shuttle or campground reservations. If you have one of the national passes for seniors, those with disabilities, or frequent park users (the America the Beautiful -- National Park and Federal Recreational Lands Pass), you can get a refund when you get to the park. Entrance fees are in place year-round and are collected at the Murie Science and Learning Center during winter months.

Campground fees are $16 to $28 per night for car or RV camping, $14 for the backpackers' campground at Riley Creek Campground, and $9 at Sanctuary Campground and Igloo Campground. A reservation fee of $5 is charged for the first night of stays in campgrounds other than Riley Creek and Savage River. A $5 fee is charged for canceling or changing a campsite or bus ticket, except for free children's tickets. You can cancel until 11pm the day before arrival for campground reservations or 24 hours before departure for shuttle tickets. Tundra Wilderness Tour reservations can be canceled only 7 days or more in advance.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.