Navigating the Wild…Denali National Park.
I just finished reading an article that I thought I’d share. It’s about Denali National Park, and was written written by Jason and Nikki Wynn, the perpetual travelers. They write about their trip to Denali and their success at figuring out the best way to use the busing system and RV camping at the park.
Denali National Park was not the park’s original name. The mountain was named after President William McKinley in 1897 by local prospector William A. Dickey. The mountain which is Americas tallest peak was known by the locals as Denali or “the high one”.
The park was officially created on February 26, 1917 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the a bill into legislation which created Mount McKinley National Park. Since that time, there has been a lot of controversy over the name until August 30 2015, when the Obama Administration used statutory authority to change the name to Denali and therefore Denali National Park.
Now that you’ve had a little history lesson, check out Jason and Nikki’s advice on the park. It might just save you a headache or two.
Decoding Denali National Park – Camping and Buses
Denali National Park is six million acres of beautiful, pristine Alaska wilderness. It’s a shining example of preservation and solitude. But let me tell you, planning a camping trip to Denali National Park is a pain in the a**!
It feels like you need a decoder ring to figure out the different buses, campgrounds, reservations and fees. It seemed so overwhelming we almost wanted to throw in the towel and skip it altogether, but we knew that would be a mistake. So, we put on our big boy pants, poured a high ball of bourbon, did the hours of research, made the reservations and learned a lot through the process!
Luckily for you, we’ve figured out the perfect Denali by RV game plan! Or at least we think so.
We don’t want overwhelm you or repeat what you can read on the national parks website. We’re going to stick to our personal opinion’s and recommendations in this article. …
Camping Outside Denali National Park
Outside the Park with Full Hook-ups – You’re going to pay $40+ to stay in a gravel parking lot if you need full hook-ups. Everything we found online within a reasonable distance to the National Park had horrible reviews. But we …we needed a couple of full hook up days to refresh our tanks…
Camping Inside Denali National Park
There are three parks out of the six inside the National Park that are RV friendly. All campgrounds are no hookups however there is a dump station at Riley Creek near the park entrance…
1st Stay at Savage River
For around $30 per night we stayed at Savage near mile 14 inside the park. This is a great ‘get your feet wet’ base camp…There are lots of trees but we found several sites that weren’t completely surrounded. So, if it’s sunny and you have solar you may be able to charge your batteries.
2nd Stay at Teklanika River
$15 per night is a great deal inside a national park for camping. Toss in the bonus Road Pass that allowed us to drive 15 miles deeper into the park and the Tek Pass that gave us unlimited access to the bus system; camping here is a steal! The Tek Pass is by far the best reason to venture out this far into the park, but I’ll touch on the details in the next section…
Which Bus Is Best?
…the greatest benefit to a shuttle bus is you can get on and off as often as you’d like.
Bus rides are long! The shortest round trip is 6.5 hours and the longest is 13 hours. The buses are not cheap, …comfortable, nor…glamorous…
There is a “travel hack” for the bus system, a little loophole if you plan ahead. When you stay at the Teklanika Campground you can purchase a Tek Pass for $30 per person for the duration of your stay. Unlike bus passes, Tek passes allowed us to ride the buses as far in and as often as we’d like. There is one caveat, you cannot go EAST from the Tek campground…
Another bonus with the Tek Pass is you get to sleep in! …
Our 3 Big Denali Takeaways
Stay at Tek
…book a campsite at Teklanika for at least 5 nights. …
Prepare For Any Weather
…It’s a big park and weather varies as you travel about and from day to day and even hour to hour. Warm sunny weather, non-stop rain, crazy winds, snowy blizzard…Trust us, we saw it all…
There are no services beyond mile 15 in the park. Bring food and water with you at all times and bring more than you think you’ll need…It’s not uncommon during a storm to be stuck in the park an extra day because the roads get shut down. It happened twice during our stay…
Source: The funny and entertaining perpetual travelers who willingly share their wealth of RV knowledge with the world, The Wynns.
Feature Image: Backpacker/Kevin McNeal
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