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Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

princeton jct
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Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

I've received mixed responses about whether it's worth adding on a few days in Denali to our Alaska cruise. I was recently told that the bus trip there from where we would dock our cruise (either Anchorage or Fairbanks) takes 10 hours. I can't imagine sitting on a bus that long. Is there a train that goes to Denali instead? Also, in general, is Denali worth the time, effort and expense?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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1. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

Yes in my opinion, Denali is worth the time, effort and money . . . but do yourself a favor and skip the cruiseline packaging of a Denali tour/trip. Your cruise won't "dock" in Fairbanks (or anywhere close) and if it docks in "Anchorage" it will probably actually be Whittier or Seward. By bus, I can see it taking 10 hrs from Seward.

You can rent a car and do the land portion of AK that interests you with a lot more flexibility and less time/money spent.

You would be best served to read more here on TA including the "Top Questions" area of this forum and other trip reports from those who have been to Denali via all means available.

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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2. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

For others reading this for the first time, a link to another thread you started on a similar topic:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k46467…

No cruises dock in Fairbanks and very few dock in Anchorage. Almost all start or end in Seward or Whittier.

Who have you received the "mixed responses" from? How long did they spend in Denali, what did they do and how far did they get into the park? Most "mixed reviews" come from cruise passengers who take the Natural History Tour for example.

And if the same "mixed responses" come from people who tell you it takes 10 hours to get to from Anchorage or Fairbanks, you can forget their responses :-)

Denali is probably my favorite place in Alaska. I have been there a dozen times already including once this year. Going back in September for a full week. But I love scenery, wildlife, photography and hiking. I would say if you like at least 2 of those, you won't be disappointed in Denali.

But you seriously need to get more reliable information. I suggest you read some threads on the Denali NP as well as some trip reports (see Top Questions About Alaska) to get a more realistic and accurate representation.

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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3. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

LOL TimeshareVon and I were typing at the same time but had similar responses.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

If I were coming to Alaska, I would not miss a few days in Denali - but I would rent a car and drive - much quicker and much more flexible. :)

Chugiak, Alaska
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5. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

Yeah, I have yet to have any of my family or friends that I sent to Denali say it wasn't worth it. What I hear every time is how breathtaking and amazing it was, even after I'd told them how great it was beforehand.

Most people that aren't in the know don't understand that you have to go deep into the park to experience it fully. A friend of mine was with a (land) tour group two Summers ago and that tour didn't book them deep into the park. I told them to skip the rafting that was on the menu and go on their own. The rest of the tour group was intensely jealous when they saw the pictures my friends came back with. Make sure you are getting information from the ones who know what they are talking about and not the ones who missed out and don't even know it.

London, United...
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6. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

Denali is DEFINITELY worth it! Last year, I only stayed for 2 nights and wish I had booked for the entire week. We took one of the bus trips into the park for the full day and saw so much wildlife and the scenery was amazing. Including being "stuck" becasue a bear decided to have a nap in the middle of the road for about an hour! When he woke up, he did his "private" business in plain view...now what soapberries look like after a bear has "processed" them!! I can just imagine the trekking that can be done there.

I'll be returning to Alaska in Feb/Mar for the Iditarod but sadly won't get to go to Denali :-(

If you don't want to drive all the way from Seward or Whittier, you can drive up to Anchorage then take the train to Denali. I think there is a train from Seward to Anchorage too but can't be certain.

Manitoba, Canada
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7. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

Well, looks like I have to add my usual caution: Denali is "worth it" to most people, but not all.

It is not a drive through zoo. Many people rave about all the wildlife they see during a shuttle or tour, but that is not a guarantee of what YOU will see. My first trip into Denali, in a nearly 9 hour trip, I saw ONE bear, ONE moose, and some Dall sheep, all of them just dots in the distance that needed binoculars for a decent view. Also, most people don't get to see Mt. McKinley, since it is usually shrouded in clouds. So that likely accounts for some of the unfavorable responses you have read about Denali.

Denali is your best *chance* to view a variety of wildlife. It is just a matter of luck what you get to see on any given trip. If you go with the expectation of seeing a lot of wildlife, some of it close to the road, plus McKinley in full view, you might be very disappointed. If you go with the attitude that you will enjoy whatever the day brings, you'll be fine.

London, United...
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8. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

I agree with Manitoba. Seeing any wildlife is a bonus to the trip and not the be all. My parents had done the same bus trip into Denali 2 months prior to our visit and they didn't see any wildlife and had told us that it's not worth it if only for wildlife spotting. We went anyway and I'm so glad we did. The scenery captivated me anyway and seeing practically all the wildlife you can image was icing on the cake.

Incidently, it was a lovely clear day and we saw Mt McKinley but got to admit that view of McKinley was better en route from Anchorage.

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

I was in Denali on July 4. Took the shuttle bus out to Wonder Lake. Saw 1 lynx, 1 bear (yup, a dot up on the hill), 1 moose, 1 caribou, 2 eagles. Didn't see the mountain. Saw a gazillion mosquitoes. Just being able to be a blip on the landscape was so awesome that I can't wait to return for more. The ride out to Wonder Lake and back was long and my brain and body shook and rattled the whole way, but our driver was so filled with passion for the environment and the beauty of the park and that's what made this a trip not to miss.

Durham, North...
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10. Re: Is Denali worth it - bus vs train?

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