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day hike advice/2-3 days in Denali

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nyc
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day hike advice/2-3 days in Denali

We would appreciate any advice from TAs that have hiked in Denali. We are traveling to Alaska for the first time in the first week of september and will be in Denali for two full days. We are 26&28, in good shape and have good experience hiking in the lower 48. However no experience hiking without obvious trails and we are semi comfortable with reading maps with compassess.

We have purchased books and searched online for thw best hikes in the park and there is just so many it is hard to pick! we are looking for day hikes with the best views in the house!

So far, we made a reservation for an early bus out into the park (6:45am) to wonder lake. we are hoping to get there at 6pm, set up camp so we wont have to haul stuff around and go for a quick hike before the sun sets. we could, however for the sake of a good hike, get off the buss early and hike first. the next day we plan to take another early bus back to another campsite, maybe igloo? where we could spend the full day hiking after setting camp again. from what i understand we can hop on and off the bus to take us to areas where hikes begin. after the second night we could also spend half a day hiking before we get out of the park and go on with our drive to fairbanks.

we are hoping for clear weather to get some great shots of mt mckinley, the lake, animals etc. cannot waith for the views, colors, air and solitude :) some hikes on the list include polychrome pass, stony dome, and the eilson area, but we have no ideas really for the wonder lake area. any ideas, pointers and advice are much appreciated!

fti
MN
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1. Re: day hike advice/2-3 days in Denali

I am a bit confused by your post. 6.45am WL shuttle bus not arriving at WL until 6pm? Then set up camp? Do you have camping reservations at WL?

You really need to take a camper bus to campgrounds so you have room for your gear. And from the entrance to WL is about 5 hours.

It sounds like you have two nights tent camping in the park, correct? So the first day you get to WL, set up camp and hike the McKinley Bar Trail. Not many options to head back into the heart of the park for a day hike due to the shuttle schedules.

Your only full day in the park you do one nice and longer hike. If you try to do multiple hikes in one day you lose a lot of time getting to/from the road and waiting for buses. I have done Stony Dome, Gravel Mountain, Mt. Eielson and others as day hikes. Also recently did a day hike from west of Polychrome (about mile 48) to the East Fork Bridge. That would be a fairly long day for you with the bus schedules.

The last day the best you can do is break camp, head to Eielson and leave your gear at Eielson. Then do a day hike, return to Eielson, get your stuff and head to the entrance. But that will be a long day considering again the bus schedules, showering when you return to the entrance, then a 2-3 hour drive to Fairbanks depending on construction, etc.

nyc
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2. Re: day hike advice/2-3 days in Denali

Thanks for your reply! for some reason i thought it takes the bus 11 hr to get to WL. our reservation is for a camper bus. we should probably look into the bus schedule a little more closely.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,369 posts
28 reviews
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3. Re: day hike advice/2-3 days in Denali

It is an 11 hour round trip ride to WL. About 5 hours one way.

4. Re: day hike advice/2-3 days in Denali

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