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Excursion to Denali

Jonesboro, Arkansas
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12 posts
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Excursion to Denali

I'm planning the Denali leg our trip from Anchorage and have questions about several things. The first is the most efficient way to get there. We'll have a car for the other leg of our journey (Anchorage-Kenai), so would we need to keep this (I read where traffic can get congested) or travel by rail, bus or plane to Denali? Also, once we get there do we just need to do a day tour by bus? What about staying in Kantishna? And finally, we would like to have one flightseeing excursion on this trip and I'm thinking Denali is the place. Do you agree and if so have recommendations?

Thanks so much for your advice!!

USA
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1. Re: Excursion to Denali

It helps us to help you if we can see the big picture: who, when, how many days, children, etc?

Most of us will say a rental car is helpful at Denali so you have flexibilty with lodging & shuttle buses.

Most of us recommend the shuttle buses over the tours.

I would certainly get lodging back at Kantishna if I could afford it! Kantishna Air lodging is the most reasonably priced, but North Face & Camp Denali have amazing hiking trips. There is also Kantishna Roadhouse.

Many folks take their flightseeing tour out of Talkeetna on the way to Denali, leaving some open time on the way out of Denali in case of cancellation due to weather. If you stay back in Kantishna, check out Kantishna Air's tours.

You will need reservations right away for lodging & shuttle buses if you are going this summer.

Jonesboro, Arkansas
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12 posts
41 reviews
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2. Re: Excursion to Denali

That's great information about Talkeetna! I haven't read too much about that so it's good to know about the flight seeing. After looking at travel options it appears as if the train may take too long, so we'll probably keep the rental. Also, I did some more research on lodging and it looks like most everything in the park is really rustic, some with community bathrooms, etc. It's just my husband and I and we like comfort--will sacrifice that to some degree for fabulous views and easily accessible activities but don't want to go camping if that makes sense. Is there a place that really stands out in that regard. We can splurge on lodging if it's worth it, but I'd rather not if it's just mediocre. Other than the shuttle around the park which takes all day, what are other things we need to do to get the experience of Denali? We can stay 3 days if we need to to see it all. Appreciate your feedback!

Jonesboro, Arkansas
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12 posts
41 reviews
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3. Re: Excursion to Denali

Should we consider staying in Talkeetna??

USA
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4. Re: Excursion to Denali

Talkeetna is way, way too far as a base for Denali.

For the nicest lodging, look at Healy, just north of the park:

http://www.a1cms.com/_dcc/accommodations/

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g31007-c2-Healy_Alask…

Edited: 10 May 2014, 23:45
fti
MN
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for Alaska
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5. Re: Excursion to Denali

I would consider staying 3 nights near Denali - that would give you two full days in the park for the shuttle bus, hiking, wildlife viewing, etc. I would actually make Talkeetna a stop on the way to Denali your first day. Book the flightseeing for that day (late morning or early afternoon the day you leave Anchorage). Then have lunch in Talkeetna before driving the next +-3 hours to Denali. If the flightseeing gets canceled, you have another chance to reschedule for the way back when you return from Denali to Anchorage.

The first day you arrive at Denali, you can pick up your pre-reserved shuttle bus tickets (shuttle buses are much more flexible and much less expensive than tour buses). Plus, you can get off shuttle buses anywhere to hike and hop back on another shuttle bus on a space-available basis, but for just two of you there shouldn't be a problem getting on a bus. Also this first day spend some time in the visitor center - the exhibits and film are excellent. If you are interested in a guided hike, you can sign up for the Discovery Hikes in the visitor center as well (sign up only 1 or 2 days max in advance).

On the days you take the shuttle, I would book a relatively early shuttle bus (6-8am departure?) to Wonder Lake. If the Mountain is visible, proceed to Wonder Lake for great views (walk past the campground to an opening in the dirt path for great views). If the Mountain is not out, get off at Eielson and take a different bus back to the entrance. In the evening you can drive the first 15 miles of the park road.

You can also do some rafting near Denali if you are interested.

Having a car is really beneficial at Denali. It gives you more options for lodging and for meals.

Note that there is no food or drink once you leave on the buses into the park. So be sure to bring your own food and drink. There is potable water at the Eielson Visitor Center so you can refill your water bottles there.

Jonesboro, Arkansas
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6. Re: Excursion to Denali

Thank you so much for that tip!!! I have a number to call Denali Lakeview Inn Monday!

Jonesboro, Arkansas
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12 posts
41 reviews
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7. Re: Excursion to Denali

That is such good information! Exactly what I was wanting to know for this excursion. Thank you so much!!

Lake Tahoe...
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8. Re: Excursion to Denali

We did our first trip to Denali back in 1994 but that was via rail from Anchorage. We left our car in Anchorage. But, we were severly limited to where we stayed (there are no known rental cars there). As for reservations can't remember how we went about it (20 years ago and no internet). Checked the area recently for accommodations near the entrance and found nothing available. So, will be in Healy this July. Thus, don't take the train. Besides, driving there you have more flexibility

9. Re: Excursion to Denali

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