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“Fun day, despite the rain!”

The Kantishna Experience Day Tour
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Burlington, Massachusetts
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Fun day, despite the rain!”
Reviewed 25 July 2014 via mobile

My husband and I pre-booked our tour a few months in advance of our trip (recommended as the summer dates can book up quickly).

It's a LONG day and a very early start, and despite the overcast and drizzly weather, we felt we got our money's worth on the trip.

Our driver was Kevin Hay. He was fantastic -- a veritable vault of historical, geological, and biological and botanical information about the park and all the areas we were viewing. He was quick to pull over whenever someone spotted wildlife. We saw an abundance of Dall sheep, caribou, a red fox, a few moose, and lots of bears! The highlight was a mother bear and her two cubs walking up along the roadway. Caused a bit of a jam with all the buses. Truly a "postcard photo" opportunity if ever there was one. Had hoped to see golden eagles or perhaps even some wolves but they were no shows. Still, an impressive amount of wildlife for such a dreary day.

There were plenty of stops along the 92 mile road to Kantishna Roadhouse. Be prepared that most restroom stops are bare minimum facilities with no flush toilets or running water though the Eilson Center at mile 66 will have proper facilities as will Kantishna.

Bring water with you on the bus and a snack as it does take some time to get to the roadhouse. Bring plenty of bug spray and spare batteries or memory cards for the camera as there are tons of photo ops. Dress in layers too as the weather is very changeable. (Our day varied from cold and rainy to warm and overcast and back to rain again with about a 10 degree shift in temperatures).

The break at Kantishna was a welcome one. Hot soup, wrap sandwich, and cookies for lunch followed either by a choice of dog sled demonstration (they have an Iditarod winner on staff) or a hands on gold panning lesson.

There are, of course, no guarantees of wildlife or actually seeing Denali. We were lucky on the first account and thwarted by the rain and clouds on the second part. One of the rangers at the Eilson center said it had been two (maybe three?) weeks since there had been a decent day when the mountain was visible. All the same, the park is beautiful. I'm really glad we chose the long tour as I felt we got to see the best the park had to offer.

There are other less expensive bus tour options, including one that will go the full 90 miles to Wonder Lake, but those buses appear to be old school buses and were in no way as comfortable as the Kantishna bus which had cushier seats and large side-to-side sliding windows that could be opened for fresh air or to ensure an unobstructed view for photographing the park and animals.

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1 Thank Molly M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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128 reviews from our community

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Park City, Utah
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Disappointed”
Reviewed 22 July 2014

I know the tour operators have no control over the weather or the wildlife, but we didn't see squat. It was a rainy day and maybe my expectations were too high, but I expected to see an abundance of wildlife. Saw one caribou from so far away it was only visible with binoculars. Took the tour bus to the end (7 hours), had lunch at the lodge and then opted to take an air taxi back to the entrance. I couldn't stand the thought of spending another 7 hours on the bus to return with angry people complaining that it's too hot, now too cold, where are the animals, etc.

Visited July 2014
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1 Thank SeeeingTheWorld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Prince Rupert, BC
Level 6 Contributor
110 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Preferred the Tundra tour.”
Reviewed 19 July 2014

Long day and not much more to see than the Tundra tour we took last time. The guide, Craig was passionate about his work, but a talked a lot about the politics of the park.

Visited July 2014
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1 Thank BDawn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Louis Park, Minnesota
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“13 Hour Bus Tour”
Reviewed 13 July 2014

My husband and I totally enjoyed this tour. We saw seven grizzly bears, caribou, golden eagle and sheep. It is a13 hour trip on a bus so be prepared. Many bathroom stops while you are touring. Kevin Hay was our tour guide. He was very polite and informative. The lunch is not that great but we didn't take this tour for the food. Pack hearty snacks and enjoy the wildlife. Views are breathtaking.

Visited July 2014
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1 Thank Kathy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Barnstaple, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
203 reviews
68 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 252 helpful votes
“If luck is on your side it's an awesome experience, if not it's still good.”
Reviewed 11 July 2014

We had pre-booked our tickets in the UK and were committed to our selected full day of travel for the tour bus ride into the National Park. It was rather like buying a lottery ticket and we were in the lap of the weather Gods. However, they smiled on us (and our fellow travellers) on our chosen date and the weather was kind and the wildlife came out to play in force. Travelling from a counrty (UK) were our natural wildlife tends to be on the small side, somewhat sparse and does not want to eat you, the trip into the Nation Park interior was one, if not the, highlight of our Alaskan adventure.

Others in their reviews will give you their own highs and lows, but for us it was just an incredable experience from beginning to end. Our driver Matt (but he answered to any name beginning with 'M' ) was the the font of all knowledge to do with Denali National Park, its history and its environment, as well as drip feeding us interesting and amusing anecdotes throughout the 12 hour day, in addition to being the prinical wildlife spotter.

As I mentioned at the beginning, taking this NP tour bus ride is a lottery. Our day was simply wonderful, but the very next day it rained solidly all day and low clouds and mist all but obsqured the nearby park hills let alone the distant mountains. At the end of our particular day's tour the bus windows had just a covering of dust. However, the muck and mud kicked up from the unpaved NP solitary road in the heavy rain would have totally covered the windows and visability would have been miminal.

In our opinion the tour bus company have put together a comprehensive and well oiled package. It will be only your own forgetfulness that will let you down. So take plenty to drink, especially water. Ensure your camera is fully charged or you have sufficient batteries for a full day of clicking away, and most importantly of all your have plentry of 'mosi' repelent otherwise they will eat you alive on the couple of off-bus short excursions. The tour company do provide a mosi head covering in addition to supplying a pleasent picnic lunch box including juice.

The odds of actually seeing Mount McKinley ( I prefer the Alaskan name of Mount Denali) are not in your favour. Despite all that we did see and observed the mountain stayed hidden all day. In the previous two weeks Matt had only seen the mountain once. However, we had wonderful views of the mountain driving into Denali the day previously under cloudless skies.

The 91 miles of Park Road is the only travel corridor into Denali National Park. Whilst the road is paved (asphalted) for the first 14 miles the remainer is not.The narrow and winding mountain section is interesting to say the least which was made all the more exciting by the dall sheep poised precariously above on the cliffs. The ranger checkpoint station, at mile 15, is the real start of the tour as you can drive your own car up to this point if you wish.

The Eielson Visitor Center (at mile 66) is one of the best stops and also one of many comfort breaks. You can watch the short film of the climbers, view exhibits, (enjoy a flush toilet!) and even running water. There is also enough time to take in a short hike if you wish.

It is truely a wilderness park and the sights, if you are fortunate enough, will stay with you forever. We were fortunate enough to see a grizzly stork, and then chase, a heard of caribou...Beaver, elk, coyotes, marmot, moose, a family of foxes and even a Hawk Owl were all spotted on our tour and capured on my camera by the end of this truly extordinary day. The star billing were of course the grizzly bears and we had regular sightings right through the day.

For the distant visitor, who might only get to visit Denali NP once, this is must do tour and take a chance on the weather. Its is not cheap but neither did I consider it to be overly expensive. It is certaily value for money and something I highly recommended. Loved it.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank thepostie2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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