This incredible place we now call the Denali National Park was first established as a national park in February of 1917, under the title Mt McKinley National Park. It is one of eight impressive national parks in the state of Alaska.
For decades, the state of Alaska worked to change the name back to its original native Athabascan title of Mt. Denali. In 1980 the park name was officially changed to the Denali National Park and Preserve. However, the mountain itself, North America’s tallest mountain, was still called Mt McKinley.
It wasn’t until 2015 that then-President Barack Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell renamed the mountain to its Athabascan title of Denali, meaning “The Great One.”
Each year, an average of 600,000 visitors will come to see Denali and the 600-mile-long Alaska range. It will come as no surprise that most travelers will visit during the busy summer months. Like all of our national parks, Denali requires a bit of advance planning to have a great trip.
Things To Do In Denali National Park
There is, quite literally, more to do and see in Alaska than can be done in one trip. By planning your excursions and activities in advance, it is possible to have an incredible journey to Alaska with little fear of missing out.
We’ve put together our picks for the top 13 unforgettable things to do in Denali National Park that you should add to your list of do not miss experiences.
1) Denali Visitor Center – Let’s Meet At The Park Entrance!
Begin your visit with a stop at the visitor center near the park’s entrance. You can talk to the rangers, get your questions answered, watch the movie and pick up a park map.
2) Hiking Trails In Eielson Visitor Center
There are a few marked trails near the park entrance, where you can take short hikes of two miles or less. Most hiking in the park is off-trail trekking.
If you prefer to stay on the marked trails, head to the Eielson Visitor Center, where you will find:
The Tundra Loop
Thorofare Ridge Trail
Gorge Creek Trail
3) Tundra Wilderness Tour
Head into the Alaskan wilderness in search of wildlife! Plenty of stops are made for wildlife photo opportunities. You’ll search for members of the Alaska Big Five:
4) Denali Natural History Tour
With a certified naturalist driver guide at the helm, you will learn more about the park’s history, landscape, and geology. You’ll head towards Teklanika Flats with a stop at Savage River Cabin, the original ranger’s cabin.
5) Denali Backcountry Lodge
Have an immersive experience by staying at this fly-in-only lodge. Guests arrive by helicopter, staying in one of 42 cedar cabins. All meals are provided, and naturalist guides lead hiking, biking, and shuttle tours.
6) Flightseeing In Denali National Park
It is said that only 30 percent of the summer visitors to the park will fully see Denali Park. Increase your odds by taking one of the flightseeing tours by helicopter or small plane. See the stunning snow-capped peaks, the major glaciers, and impressive cascading icefalls.
7) Step Out On An Ancient Glacier With A Glacier Landing Tour
Take a flightseeing helicopter tour that makes an amazing landing on a glacier. You’ll see remote regions few people ever see before setting down on a millennia-old glacier. Stepping out onto the glacier, you’ll be able to explore the ice falls and massive crevasses.
8) See The Aurora Borealis
While it is possible to see the elusive aurora borealis during all four seasons, you have the best chance of seeing the lights if you visit between August and April.
9) Self-Guided Jeep Tours On The Historic Denali Highway
Skip the tour buses for a day and take the wheel of a 4×4 Jeep. With self-guided tours, you can see the less visited areas.
Determine your own adventure by choosing your destination. You could drive along the original historic highway.
See the George Parks Scenic Byway and the Nenana Canyon. The time is yours to drive where you want, stop when you want, and never feel rushed.
10) Jet Boat Tours
Have an exciting jet boat adventure in the Denali wilderness! Explore the vast Alaska Range from the vantage point of an enclosed jet boat on one of the many rivers.
11) White Water Rafting
Have an action-packed adventure with 11 miles of adrenaline-pumping rapids on the Nenana River. You can experience white water rapids with ratings as high as class III and IV as you navigate the picturesque Nenana Gorge.
For beginners, the Nenana River also offers thrilling adventures on rapids rated as class II and III. A great opportunity for the whole family.
12) ATV Tour
Drive your own all-terrain 4×4 vehicle with an expert guide leading the way into the Alaska wilderness. You can get off the main road on an ATV and enjoy the wild side of Alaska.
Excursions take you along the old coal mining trails, through dry river beds, and alongside local vegetation. You’ll explore the Alaska backcountry and have a whole lot of fun while you do it!
13) Backcountry Safari – Let’s Go Off The Denali Park Road
Join a small group tour off the beaten path with an off-road excursion on a mighty 6-wheel drive army truck. You’ll go deep into the Alaskan bush as you search for wildlife.
See the northern lights, walk on glaciers, and explore Denali National Park And Preserve on your own terms.
Let the knowledgeable local guides at Stampede Excursions show you the untamed wilderness, breathtaking surrounding mountains, and glaciers of Denali Park. Adventure waits for you around every corner.
We are your one-stop place for all there is to do in Denali. We provide personalized, one-of-a-kind experiences.
Call us or go online today. Book our Denali National Park tour best suited to your needs! We look forward to meeting you!