Denali’s park road is only open to private vehicles for the first 15 miles of its 90+ mile length. The remaining stretch is accessible only via park buses or via buses owned by the lodges at the end of the road, in Kantishna. For traveler’s staying at lodges such as Camp Denali, North Face or Denali Backcountry, aligning your arrival to the park entrance with the pickup times for these lodges will be a key part of you planning.
Camp Denali and North Face Lodge are my preferred option in the heart of the park, and their logistics can be particularly tricky because they only do these transfers twice a week. But the upside is simple. Your 90-mile transfer to your lodge will be just the start of your adventure, while for most front-country visitors it would be the highlight of their visit. During your trip into the park with Camp Denali and North Face Lodge, the driver/guide will begin to explain the fascinating history of the park’s creation, as well as point out various geographical highlights. Specific stops will be made at Polychrome Overlook, Toklat River and the Eielson Visitor Center. But, the highlights will be the unplanned stops for wildlife such as grizzlies, moose, dahl sheep and caribou.
Lunch is served at a beautiful spot along the way, so the staff seem challenged to make this incredible spread equally as beautiful! The drive, the meal and the amazing sights along the way serve to slow folks down. All that “hurry-up-and-get-there” quickly turns into “ahhh-we’re-here” quite quickly.