You've got questions about visiting Denali National Park? We've got answers!
Can you stay in Denali National Park?
While the bulk of the hotel, cabins and lodging options for Denali are located just outside the park gates, there are a few lodges actually located inside the park. These are 'wilderness' or 'backcountry' lodges (like the Denali Backcountry Lodge, which is located 92 miles down the Denali Park Road in Kantishna). These lodges generally have exclusive or restricted access and need to be booked well in advance. Camping is also possible inside Denali at designated sites. But again, it's important to reserve ahead!
Can you drive through Denali National Park?
Personal vehicles can drive as far as Mile 15 on the Denali Park Road. Past that point, only buses run by outfitters including the Denali Backcountry Adventure and those run by the National Parks Service have road access. These buses operate in summer only (approximately late-May through mid-September).
One exception is the annual Denali Park Lottery, which gives private vehicles a chance to drive the Park Road. See below.
What is the Denali Road Lottery?
Each year, park visitors can apply to have the unique opportunity to drive their own vehicles the entire 92-mile trip down the Denali Park Road to Kantishna. This 5-day event is the only time the road is open to personal vehicles past Mile 15. There are 400 permits issued for each of the five days, including 1,600 for the general public and 400 reserved for members of the U.S. Military. People who win a spot on the lottery can bring as many people as their car fits in a vehicle no longer than 22 feet.
When is the Denali Road Lottery?
The Denali Road Lottery drive typically happens on the second Thursday after Labor Day. So how do you get a ticket for the lottery? First, apply online during the month of May (only one entry allowed per person). Then, cross your fingers! It's truly the luck of the draw here.
What is the closest city to Denali?
The closest city of any size is Fairbanks, Alaska. It's located 125 miles northeast of the entrance to Denali National Park.
How do I get to Denali?
There are a number of ways to get yourself and your adventurous spirit to Denali. Denali's main entrance is located at Mile 237 of Highway 3, also known as the George Parks Highway. It's about 240 miles north of Anchorage. This is the only road entrance to the park. If you have a car (owned or rented) you can drive from the south via Talkeetna or come down from the north and Fairbanks. You can also take a ride on the Alaska Railroad from either Anchorage or Fairbanks. As well, motorcoaches have regularly-scheduled services from Anchorage and Fairbanks which take you to the Denali Park Entrance. Finally, you can arrive in Denali by small plane via companies like the Kantishna Air Taxi.
What is Denali named for? What does "Denali" mean?
"Denali" is believed to mean "high" or "tall" in the Athabascan language of the people who first inhabited central Alaska and have lived here for centuries. In 1896, a gold prospector gave it the name "Mt. McKinley" after the then presidential candidate William McKinley and the US Government made that name official from 1917 until 2015, when it became recognized by its original name again.
How high is Denali?
Denali is the highest peak in North America, with an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m). From base to peak, it reaches 18,000 ft (5,500 m), making it one of the tallest peaks on Earth. As well, if you measure it's prominence (or the distance from its summit to its contours), Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. It's an epic, thrilling and beautiful sight to see!
What other questions do you have about Denali? Ask our Alaska Travel Experts—they'd love to help you!