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Top 10 Tours & Excursions in Denali National Park, Alaska

As a lover of nature and wildlife, Alaska is one of my favorite places to be. While this state is massive, by far the largest in the United States at 665,400 square miles, with eight national parks here alone, Denali National Park is one of the most popular. I recently had the opportunity to visit, with its over six million acres featuring North America’s tallest peak, Mount Denali at over 20,000 feet high, and a wide array of wildlife. That includes the “big five” – grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves.

There is a wide range of tours available, many of which depart from the park’s top lodges, like Denali Park Village on the Nenana River, that will bring you to see the wildlife and scenery while enjoying various activities. They’re hosted by Aramark, the national park service, and businesses just outside of the park, with these tours and excursions some of the best you can take in Denali.

Tundra Wilderness Tour Grizzly bear with her cubs, Denali National Park
Credit: Grizzly bear with her cubs, Denali National Park by © Wirestock - Dreamstime.com

Tundra Wilderness Tour

The Park Road through Denali extends 92 miles, but private cars aren’t allowed to travel past Mile 15, which is why the narrated Tundra Wilderness Tour is one of the top things to do in the park. The bus tour will bring you deep into the park without having to embark on a multi-day backpacking trip. A classic wildlife excursion, the tours are led by certified naturalist drivers who provide excellent insight into the park’s history, geology, and wildlife. You’ll be surrounded by unspoiled wilderness, including views of braider rivers, the jagged peaks of the Alaska Range, and Mount Denali on a clear day, all while enjoying the opportunity to see grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves.

E-Bike Tour On an e-bike tour, Denali National Park, Alaska
Credit: On an e-bike tour, Denali National Park, Alaska by K.C. Dermody

E-Bike Tour

E-bike tours are a great way to enjoy the spectacular views and wildlife Denali National Park is known for while enjoying the thrill of speeding down a tranquil road with few others around. E-bikes are truly the best of both worlds, providing a workout that can give riders a break while ascending tough hills, thanks to the battery power behind them. You’ll see more with less effort, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the local knowledge that Bike Denali provides to ensure an unforgettable experience. The self-guided tours include options for afternoon, full-day, or even multi-day rentals for bike camping.

Triple Lakes Guided Hiking Tour Triple Lakes, Denali National Park
Credit: Triple Lakes, Denali National Park by K.C. Dermody

Triple Lakes Guided Hiking Tour

There are many hikes available inside the park and around its borders, with the Triple Lakes Trail a must-do for anyone who wants to enjoy a more tranquil hiking experience that comes complete with spectacular views, including three different alpine lakes. A tour with a naturalist guide is available through the park service, which means you’ll have an expert who can point out the local flora and fauna, including the abundant wildflowers and plants that have medicinal properties. You’ll also have someone at your side who knows what to do should moose or bears be near. The lakes are home to resident beavers and moose that often frequent the trails while enjoying the sheltered valley, providing many fabulous photo ops.

Natural History Tour view of the Savage River, Denali National Park
Credit: view of the Savage River, Denali National Park by K.C. Dermody

Natural History Tour

If you want to learn more about the park’s natural and cultural history, this 4.5- to 5-hour Natural History Tour of the Teklanika River at mile 30 and includes various stops like the original ranger’s cabin, Savage Cabin, where you’ll find out how it was used in the past and how it’s being used today. An Alaskan Native presentation at Primrose Ridge reveals how the land has been used for thousands of years, and you’ll enjoy magnificent views and the chance to spot wildlife too. It’s hosted by a driver/naturalist, with most of the tour taken on the bus, but you’ll have an hour off the bus too.

Dog Sled Demonstrations Summertime sled dog workout, Denali National Park
Credit: Summertime sled dog workout, Denali National Park by © Joe Sohm - Dreamstime.com

Dog Sled Demonstrations

If you have any interest in sled dogs and the work they do in the park, there are free buses departing from the Denali Visitor Center that will bring you to the beautiful furry canines and their caregivers, where you can watch Sled Dog demonstrations. They leave 40 minutes before each demonstration, which take place at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. daily from mid-May to mid-September. You’ll have the chance to get up close to the dogs and even cuddle with the ones that are looking for a little affection.

Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane, Denali National Park
Credit: Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane, Denali National Park by denaliair.com

Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane

Denali Air provides the chance to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the park and even fly around North America’s highest point, Mount Denali. You’ll soar among the jagged peaks of the Alaska Range, getting within a half-mile of the mountain while circling it to provide a view of all of its corners and crevices. A 60- to 70-minute flight on a twin-engine plane, the excursions depart from the eastern edge of the park bringing views of braided rivers, colorful ridgelines, and tundra-covered valleys before climbing to the pristine snowy peaks. While Mount Denali is often covered up by clouds, from here, you’ll have a 70 percent chance of seeing the iconic mountain. Even if you don’t, the views are virtually guaranteed to take your breath away.

Rafting Excursion Denali Raft Adventures
Credit: Denali Raft Adventures by Denali Raft Adventures

Rafting Excursion

Located just outside Denali National Park, rafting trips are available on the Nenana River, with everything from two-hour excursions to all-day mild water or whitewater trips. Locally family owned and operated for nearly 50 years, Denali Raft Adventures provides transport to and from the river and your local accommodation along with expert, knowledgeable guides. You’ll be outfitted with Gore-Tex dry suits to ensure comfort, neoprene boots, and a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. It’s a fun way to gain another perspective of the area while bringing the chance to spot wildlife too.

Denali Wilderness ATV Adventure Tour ATV tour, Denali National Park
Credit: ATV tour, Denali National Park by Viator.com

Denali Wilderness ATV Adventure Tour

An ATV Adventure tour is a great way to explore the park while enjoying many of its highlights, including the Alaska Range, Healy Valley, and Otto Lake. You’ll get to ride the trails while immersed in magnificent scenery at speeds of up to 30 mph with stops to overlooks featuring 360-degree views. Navigate rock creek beds, perhaps spend time splashing through the water, and discover countless photo ops. You’ll want to watch for the abundant wildlife too, including moose that like to wander the trail. Your expert guide will provide insight into the park’s history and ecosystem, and pickup/drop-off is available at select hotels too.

Denali Jeep Excursion Denali Jeep Excursion, Denali National Park
Credit: Denali Jeep Excursion, Denali National Park by Viator.com

Denali Jeep Excursion

A four-hour guided Jeep excursion, this tour offers the chance to travel a 135-mile gravel road for what National Geographic Traveler named a “Drive of a Lifetime.” You can take the wheel yourself or let someone else do the driving while you relax and soak up the views of the glaciers and peaks in the Alaska Range. You’ll travel down a 135-mile gravel road with epic vistas of Denali and the Alaska Range and get off the beaten path with a professional guide. Watch for wildlife as you explore the unspoiled wilderness, including grizzly bears, caribou, and wolves. Snacks, beverages, and hotel pickup/drop-off are all included too. In order to drive, you’ll need to be at least 25 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.

Denali Park Zipline Adventure Denali Park Zipline
Credit: Denali Park Zipline by Viator.com

Denali Park Zipline Adventure

Experience the adrenaline rush that comes from feeling as if you’re flying while taking in unforgettable scenery by embarking on a zipline adventure. The Denali Park Zipline Adventure offers the only zipline course in the region with the three-hour experience taking place just outside the park. You’ll have expert guides to lead you along the course that includes six suspension bridges and eight ziplines, each one of which is unique. You’ll soar through the boreal forest and over the tundra while taking in a sweeping vista of the Alaska Range. If you bring a lanyard holder for your phone, you can capture some fantastic photos too. Complimentary pickup and drop-off are included from most Denali area hotels too, including Denali Park Village.

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