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Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

kentucky
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Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

Ready to book a tour for our trip in August but wanted suggestions/ideas on which to book - morning or afternoon tour. Sight says if the mountain is out that day may go on another 8 miles or so to get closer. When would that be more likely, mid morning or later afternoon?

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

I wouldn't recommend the tundra tour - just book the shuttle for whenever you feel like leaving . . . that would be my suggestion. Where are you staying? :)

kentucky
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2. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

Healy heights family cabins. Why not a guided tour? Will have a rental car.

Healy, Alaska
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3. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

Because they (tour buses) don't go out very far into the park, you often get a talkative driver on the shuttle bus system that is just as good, it saves you a bunch of $$, and you can get on/off the bus to walk/hike in the park. Most of us feel that the shuttle offers a much better experience - the tour isn't really better other than you get a boxed lunch. :)

fti
MN
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4. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

Welcome to the forum.

Why not the "guided tour"? Lots of reasons. First of all, it only goes between 53 and 61 miles into the park. The shuttle bus can go to Eielson (mile 66) or Wonder Lake (mile 85). Secondly, the "tour" costs about 2-3x as much as the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus drivers give excellent commentary (99% of them anyway). If you take a shuttle bus, you have more chance to see bears since the area between where the Tundra Tour turns around and Eielson is prime bear habitat.

Also, if you have any desire to get off the bus for an extended period of time (one of the guided walks/hikes at Eielson, just get off at Eielson to spend more time or get off anywhere along the route to hike or walk along the road), you really can't do that easily with a tour bus.

With the Tundra Tour you choose morning or afternoon and they choose the exact departure time a day or two in advance. You have no say. Plus, the Tundra Tour is designed mostly for cruisetour passengers. Nothing wrong with that, but most of them like being herded around, told when and where to be, etc.

In order to see the Mountain, the best chance is if you take the first shuttle bus into the park. Often the Mountain gets shrouded in clouds by 10am. If you are on a 5am or 6am shuttle bus, you have a better chance of seeing the Mountain before it clouds over. When I go to the park, I usually camp for several nights at a time at Wonder Lake Campground. Often I see the Mountain later in the evening or earlier in the morning, when most shuttle buses are not operating. I have been to the park more than a dozen times and only once have I not seen the Mountain. But I am not an "average tourist." I spend more time in the park than most people, I am often up at night looking to see if the Mountain is out, etc.

fti
MN
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5. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

coalminer and I were typing at the same time :-)

One thing I like to do is this - take an early shuttle bus (7am or earlier). Then get off somewhere between Toklat and Eielson do to some hiking. That gives me about 2 hours to hike before I can pick up the 9.30am Eielson shuttle (i.e. leaving the park entrance at 9.30am). Often (though not always) that run is driven by one of my favorite shuttle bus drivers, Elton. He lives in Alaska, travels all over the world in the winter, loves the park and gives excellent commentary. I don't like leaving the park entrance that late, but I can pick up his bus before it gets to Eielson (so I have a guaranteed seat at Eielson if I return on his bus), and I get to hear some of his commentary and his love for the park on the return trip.

kentucky
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6. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

Thanks for the info! Glad I threw it out there for help. We aren't hikers but do enjoy the scenery and wildlife and are fairly active. Me more so than the hubs. So is safe to just get off the bus anywhere and hop back on later?And, while I'm asking, a flight with glacier landing out of Talkeetna worth it? We are staying there for a couple of days before coming to Denali, Coal Miner, my husband is a retired Coal Miner from Kentucky after working 33 years underground!

USA
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7. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

One of the best places to get off to hike is at Eielson visitor center on the return trip from Wonder Lake. There are other folks around, beautiful tundra & when you are ready to leave the bus dispatcher will put you on another bus back to the entrance. Eielson is also just a beautiful place to relax & enjoy the mountain if out, look at displays, bird books, movie of the climbers, etc.

Plus there are nice restrooms!

Be sure to bring sandwiches, snack & drinks for the shuttle. No food or drink sold at any of the shuttle stops.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

You'll be very happy you opted for the shuttle bus to at least Eielson VC. It's a fabulous trip.

fti
MN
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9. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

I like the flight seeing trips out of Talkeetna. But i try to do them using coupons for a discount. you would have to decide if you want a glacier landing or a summit flight.

I do not see Talkeetna as a multi night stop. if i do a flightseeing tour i might spend 1 night there.

Chugiak, Alaska
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10. Re: Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour - Morning or Afternoon?

If you can get a discounted flight seeing trip, that's always very nice. I will say that all my family that's been up visiting in the last five years (a baker's dozen now) has done the flight seeing out of Talkeetna or up at Denali and it's been the highlight of the trips for all of them- even the ones that had to pay full price (last minute decisions) said it was well worth it and they'd do it again.

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