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“Best chance of seeing Denali”

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Wonder Lake Campground
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Best chance of seeing Denali”
Reviewed 5 December 2012

We camped at Wonder Lake on our first trip to Denali in late July. Denali gets a bad rap from people who spend all day taking the bus in and out for a day trip and never get to see the mountain. The genious of Wonder Lake is in the ability to really spend some time there. You need two nights minimum to really give yourself a shot at seeing the mountian (and even then there's no guarantee). Plus your best chances to see the mountain happen at sunset (around 12am in July) and sunrise (around 4am). Our bus ride in was overcast and rainy, as was our first night in the campground but the next morning we were fortunate to see the clouds part and got a great view of Denali's peak and the Alaska Range! Camping at Wonder Lake also splits the round trip bus ride into two manageable half-days, increasing your chances of significant wildlife spottings. Between our ride in and our ride out we saw at least 6 grizzlies, 5 caribou and dall sheep. The campground is actually really nice! All sites have spectacular views of the mountain (if its out). We would set an alarm overnight and periodically peek out our tent window to see if the mountain was making an appearance. There is running water, flush toilets, a food locker and food prep area for bear safety. Wonder Lake is not a tremendously active section of the park for grizzlies compared with the Toklat river area but there were bear sightings reported in the area while we were there so travel in groups and make plenty of noise when hiking. We found hiking in the low tundra around Wonder Lake a little triesome without gaiters or some heavy duty boots but there is a well-maintiained trailt to the McKinley River bar and the road around Wonder Lake toward Kantishna is actually quite scenic and easy to walk. Others have posted about the mosquitos. You should pepared for mosquitos pretty much everywhere you go in Alaska. By late July when we traveled the weather was already getting too cool for significant amounts of mosquitos so we really didn't have a problem but you should definitely bring a head net and some high percentage DEET bugspray in case your experience is different. Wonder Lake really is a special place that is not visited by many because of its distance from the park entrance but if you can spend a few days, the experience is really worth it.

Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
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14 Thank gatorfan2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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41 reviews from our community

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New York
Level 5 Contributor
75 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 October 2012

I must admit I was afraid that all the effort wouldn't be worth it. If you're going to Denali you have to come out to this campground! I went in August 2011 with two friends. When we arrived at the campground it was pouring on us without mercy. It was so cloudy.

In the morning, I caught pretty good views of the mountain and at night the sunset of Wonder Lake was amazing. it did rain on and off the days while we were there, but the times that were clear were unlike anything else I've ever experienced. So beautiful and so worth the trip. Also, the longer bus ride gives you more chances to spot wildlife. We saw so many bears, moose and caribou!

I wore clothes made with InsectShield and this did help, however you can't avoid the simple fact that your in the wilds of Alaska and of course there are going to be giant mosquitoes. It does get chilly at night, but as long as you are prepared it is no big deal. There are flush toilets and running water. The bear locker is a great place to store all your food. Everyone at the campground was pretty friendly. We played cards and swapped stories with a bunch of people form all across the U.S. and the world.

Stayed August 2012, travelled with friends
Helpful?
8 Thank Heather C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Olalla Wa
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 September 2012

WOW!! The views we had from our tent of the 12:30am sunset were amazing. And the view was from in the tent since the mosquitoes were out in force (Mid June). I don't mind a few mosquitoes around, but there was literally 15-20 flying around you at all times which is why 90% of the people had mosquito head nets on. Even with the crazy mosquitoes the stay is well worth it since most of the 3 days we spent in the park we could not see the mountain, but it cleared up a couple times while we were at the campground. The mountain started to clear up about 10 pm and was completely clear about 11pm just in time for the sunset, so don't go to bed because you can't see the mountain.
The mosquitoes were only bad at the wonderlake campground and did not bother us when we were near the visitor center or on our couple day hikes around the stoney dome area.

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
5 Thank Zac W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 August 2012

My husband and I recently spend two nights here. While we did not take the family, this would be a nice place for a family trip. Running water and bathrooms plus a covered kitchen prep area with tables make this cushy camping. The views are amazing, if it's clear, and it's a nice place to get away from it all. It is a long drive via bus to the campground, so make sure you spend a few days here. There is a really nice hiking trail to the river, easily accessible from the campground, plus several day hike options a short bus ride away. I would also recommend the nightly ranger talks at 7:30 p.m.

Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank trvl17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Elkins, West Virginia
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 August 2012

We packed our tent and sleeping gear in an Army-style duffel bag and our kitchen gear and food into a large cooler (secured closed with a luggage strap and tape) and checked both on the airplane ($25 each) for our trip to Alaska. Whether you get to Denali National Park by rental car (as we did), by train or bus, you should have no problem taking your gear this way all the way to Wonder Lake campground. We made reservations online before our trip for Wonder Lake Campground and for a ticket on the "camper bus" to take us and our gear the 84 miles into the park to your campsite. The camper bus takes you to the Wonder Lake campground and it is easy to shuttle gear from the drop off spot to your campsite. This is the most civilized campsite in the wilderness I have ever encountered. Running water and flush toilets! There is a huge communal pantry to store food (right in the cooler). It was very chilly at night even in June and milk stayed fresh with the initial chunk of ice for our two night stay. There are covered pavilions with picnic tables for food preparation and socializing with other campers from all over the world. I recommend staying for two nights. That gives you plenty of time to explore the trails around the campground. Stay three if you plan on fishing one day in Wonder Lake. PS I barely remember the mosquitoes because we brought net jackets that we pretreated with repellant.

Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank NatureHound
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Albany, New York
Level 6 Contributor
102 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 July 2012

We spent three nights here in July. The campground has the normal amenities as a regular campground, flush toilets, running water, walk in food lockers, and campsite hosts. the campsite hosts were very friendly and helpful, and showed us to our Site, their are first come first serve but have a system depending on how many nights one is staying. The sites are somewhat close together, but nothing worse than what I've experienced with state campgrounds in NY. If you want to be secluded, get a backcountry permit ad go backpacking. The ranger talks each night were well put on with info and humor. If you get to see the mountain, consider yourself luck, we saw it our last day, and itS incredible. It was recommended to get up early to get a better view. A note on mosquitoes....yes, they are there, they are there in numbers, so prepare yourself for the absolute worst, and then if it's not as bad as you thought, you won't be disappointed! Is the price you pay!

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank cascade18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2012

This has quite good facilities for a campsite so in that sense its a 4* campsite... but the mosquitoes are unbelievable in June. I don't care about a few mosquitoes but the numbers are crazy. To put it into perspective, we came down on the camper bus with about 15 other people, and saw 14 of those people escaping with us on the first camper bus out the next day at the first opportunity (6.30 am). It's not much fun wearing a headnet and gloves on a hot day (and 50% DEET didn't do the job). If you go later in the year when there aren't any mosquitoes and Mt McKinley's out I imagine its great.e

Unless your into bushwhacking, there isn't much off trail hiking in this area (the ranger's word not mine), and the McKinley Bar Trail isn't that inspiring.

Stayed June 2012, travelled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank CWTraveller99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Wonder Lake Campground

Property: Wonder Lake Campground
Address: mile 85 of Denali National Park road, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99501
Region: United States > Alaska > Denali National Park and Preserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 26 Speciality Lodging in Denali National Park and Preserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 28
Also Known As:
Wonder Lake Campground Hotel Denali National Park And Preserve
Wonder Lake Campground Alaska/Denali National Park And Preserve

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