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Alaska Camping in Denali National Park
Denali National Park was established in 1980, although a smaller park named Mount McKinley National Park was established first in 1917. This park was meant to protect Dall sheep which were native to the area. A separate park named Denali National Monument was established in 1978 and the two were combined to create Denali National Park. The park is best known for its wide variety of wildlife and the 20,320' tall Mount McKinley, named for President McKinley. This name is only used by those outside of Alaska; locals refer to it simply as Denali. The park’s remote location and beautiful scenery make it an excellent Alaska camping destination.
For a camp site that works for you, visit Woodall's recommended
Denali National Park has only one road in and out, called Denali Park Road. It is 92 miles long, but only the first 15 miles are paved. The paved portion ends at Savage River. Shuttle and tour bus rides are available in the summer season for the rest of the unpaved road. This creates an excellent opportunity to see the wildlife and scenery offered by Denali National park. The buses and shuttles sit higher than the average car, making it easier to see over the brush along the road. Also, the road is windy, unpaved and travels along cliffs and through mountain passes. By traveling with a professional driver, you are able to sit back, relax and soak in the beauty of the park. The entrance fee is $10 per person or $20 per vehicle and is good for 7 days. Those making an attempt at Mt McKinley or Mt. Foraker must pay a special use fee of $200 per person. Bus and shuttle fees range between $24 and $155. The most popular time to visit is during the summer season, which is late May through early September. The weather, however, is very unpredictable year round, sometimes even snowing in August. One can expect rain, sunshine, clouds and wind even in just one day. The rainiest months tend to be June through August, although there have been instances of bone dry summers. Denali National Park always keeps you on your toes. Winter begins in late October and stretches into March. The temperature can get as low as -40 degrees, with the higher end barely reaching the high 20’s. Specialized winter gear is needed for winter Alaska camping and visits, and is best left to the more extreme campers. Spring is a short season, April through early May, with temperatures ranging between freezing and the 40’s and 50’s. Fall season, in September, is similar.
There is a lot to do in Denali National Park year round. With Mt. McKinley being the highest peak on the continent, many mountaineers come to test their climbing and survival skills. For those that don’t climb, there is still plenty to do. During the summer season, there is hiking, camping, wild life viewing, fishing, hunting in the Denali National Preserve, and of course, shuttle and bus rides past Savage Lake. For the hardier winter campers, there is cross country skiing, snowmobiling, dog mushing, snowshoeing, and winter wildlife viewing. Savage River offers hikes both on and off trails, chances to see Mt McKinley, and wildlife viewing.
To find a campsite that fits your needs, visit
Top National Parks to Visit in the United States