Denali National Park
Beyond mile 15 of the park road, you need to be on a bus, a bicycle, or your own two feet (most folks opt for a bus). Riding a bus enhances your chances of spotting wildlife. You are sitting higher than if you were in a car and there are many pairs of eyes keeping a watch for wildlife.
There are primarily two bus systems operatingthe bare-bones National Park System service and the relatively more luxurious concessionaire service. The trips vary in length but can be up to 12 hours long depending on your start and end points. You won't find any facilities to buy food, so bring a lunch, snacks, and beverages.
Bus Reservations: Do yourself a favor and set aside seats by phone. Tickets may be reserved by calling 800-622-7275 (nationwide) or 907-272-7275 (from Anchorage or foreign countries). Options include day trips and multiple trip bus passes. Walk-in reservations are available up to two days in advance at the Visitor Center. Be aware: Seats are in heavy demand, and waits of up to two days are normal.
You really don't need a destination on a shuttle bus. You can get off whenever and wherever you choose for a short hike or a rest on a tundra knoll. But these are some good stops to keep in mind.
Polychrome Rest Stop (mile 46) is the perfect choice for those just arriving at Denali on the afternoon train and wishing for that first glimpse of taiga and tundra, braided glacial streams, mountain vistas, and wildlife. The multicolored volcanic bluffs seen across the valley give the place its name. The 6 p.m. bus leaves daily between June 1 and August 23; the low light that time of day is a photographer's delight.
Toklat (mile 53) turnaround is at a valley of merging glacial streams and towering cliffs where Dall sheep are often seen (best with binoculars). Grizzlies graze the streambed's soapberries in August. Buses run between May 24 and September 11.
Eielson (mile 66) has an indoor visitor center and bookstore to escape from the wind. The building is perched on the tundra slopes; on clear days (30 percent of the summer), Mt. McKinley is seen soaring into the sky. Buses run between June 1 and September 11.
Wonder Lake (mile 85) was created by the Muldrow Glacier Alder and willow carpet hills dotted with kettle ponds (look for beaver). Buses run between June 8 and September 11.
Kantishna (mile 89) is reachable by camper buses between June 8 and September 11, primarily for backpacker access.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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