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How to Spend 1 Day in Denali National Park

How to Spend 1 Day in Denali National Park

With its abundant wildlife and glacial rivers, it’s no wonder Denali National Park is Alaska’s most-visited natural attraction. With only one day in the park, take advantage of tours in order to navigate the unspoiled wilderness. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Denali National Park.

Morning: Sightseeing on the Denali National Park

There’s only one road entrance to Denali National Park, so most visitors start their exploration of the park at the Denali Visitor Center. Private vehicles can only drive the first 15 miles (24 kilometers) so booking a bus tour or hopping on the park’s free shuttle is necessary to venture deep into the park. It’s also possible to visit the park in one day on a round-trip flightseeing tour from Anchorage; these tours often include glacier landings and a visit to the village of Talkeetna, located at the base of Mt. Denali. 

Afternoon: Denali Outdoor Adventures

After a morning tour of Denali Park Road, choose between hiking, ATV driving, white-water rafting, ziplining, or flightseeing. Guided hikes are a an ideal choice for first-time visitors; you’ll discover little-known information about the geology and botany of the sub-arctic region from a naturalist guide. 

If you’re looking for more of a thrill, opt for a white-water rafting ride down the Nenana River, a ziplining adventure, or an off-road Jeep or ATV excursion. For a truly memorable experience, take a flightseeing tour and see the jagged ridgelines and glaciated valleys of Denali up-close from the window seat of a light aircraft.

Evening: Backcountry Dinners and Midnight Sun Hikes

Depending on the season, you’ll find a host of evening activities to choose from. If you’re staying near the park’s entrance, you can watch a sled dog demonstration, or enjoy an evening ranger talk or movie night at the Denali Visitor Center. 

The sun barely sets in the summer months so opt for a late-night, guided hike beneath the midnight sun. From September through April, choose a Northern Lights tour for your best chance of catching the natural phenomenon. Alternatively, venture into the wilderness on an ATV or horse-drawn-wagon and enjoy a home-cooked backcountry dinner.

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10 Tours and Activities

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Denali ATV Trailblazer 3.5 Hour Tour

Denali ATV Trailblazer 3.5 Hour Tour

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177
Discover the Denali area on a 3.5-hour ATV tour that takes you through the boreal forest of Alaska. Have the option to tackle the rugged terrain in a single-rider ATV or a multi-passenger side-by-side ATV. Reach speeds of up to 30 mph (48 km/hr) as you ride for about 2.5 hours on trails that are challenging for all experience levels. Stop periodically for photo ops and wildlife sightings on a tour that includes guide, use of equipment, and transport from select locations in Denali.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$141.03
From
$141.03

Denali National Park Walking Tour

Denali National Park Walking Tour

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43
Few places on Earth rival the grandeur of Denali National Park. This 3-hour hike, led by a naturalist guide, is limited to just seven people for a more personalized experience. Perfect for the first-time visitor, the experience is offered in the morning, afternoon or under the midnight sun (twilight), allowing you to explore the boreal Alaska Range forest at a time that suits you best.
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  • 3 hours
From
$125.00
From
$125.00

Denali Park Zipline Adventure

Denali Park Zipline Adventure

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390
Experience Alaska from the only zipline course in the Denali National Park region. Soar over the trees during a 3-hour ziplining experience just outside Denali National Park, with expert guides who lead you along a course with six suspension bridges and eight ziplines. Fly through the boreal forest and over the tundra on this memorable tour that promises exhilarating thrills, incredible scenery and a fun challenge.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$142.57
From
$142.57

Classic ATV Adventure with Back Country Dining

Classic ATV Adventure with Back Country Dining

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50
Drive your own ATV off–road during a fun 3-hour experience in the wilderness of Alaska. Enjoy a thrilling ride, breathtaking scenery and a delicious backcountry meal. Your guide provides ATV instructions then leads you on a memorable spin down dirt roads and through dry creek beds. Stop for photo ops of the Alaska Range and look for wildlife, then celebrate with a full breakfast, lunch or dinner before returning to Healy.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$139.95
From
$139.95

Denali Experience Flightseeing Tour from Talkeetna

Denali Experience Flightseeing Tour from Talkeetna

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377
This tour takes you within 6 miles of Denali's north summit (19,470 ft.) and south summit (20,320 ft.). You will enter an ancient world of rugged high mountain peaks, towering snow-capped mountains and glacier-filled valleys and explore the south and east faces of Denali. The regular flightseeing tour is 1 hour, or choose the glacier landing option for a 1.5 hour tour including a landing atop a glacier. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience you will not forget.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$259.20
From
$259.20

Horse-Drawn Covered Wagon Ride with Backcountry Dining

Horse-Drawn Covered Wagon Ride with Backcountry Dining

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81
Travel like the Alaskan pioneers did, in horse-drawn covered wagon, during this 3-hour tour from Healy. Listen to your guide's commentary about the history, culture and environmental features of the area as you travel through the Alaskan tundra. Snap photos of the mountains of Denali National Park looming nearby. Finish your tour with a family-style meal in the heart of the backcountry.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$89.95
From
$89.95

Aurora Quest from Denali

Aurora Quest from Denali

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16
While Alaska is among the top places in the world to catch the northern lights, the elusive natural phenomenon can be difficult to spot on your own. Luckily, with a local tour guide to take you to the best spots in the Denali area, you can greatly increase your chances of witnessing the light show. Plus, along the way, your guide breaks down the mysterious science behind the northern lights.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$129.00
From
$129.00

Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane

Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane

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289
Get a closer look at Alaska’s majestic Denali from the comfortable window seat of a small aircraft. Slip on your provided headset to hear commentary from your guide as you fly over the snow-covered peaks, jagged ridgelines, and glacier carved valleys of Denali National Park, and get within half a mile of the mountain peak. Plus, choose from multiple times to easily fit this sightseeing flight tour into your schedule.
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  • 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$414.34
From
$414.34

Denali Highway Jeep Excursion

Denali Highway Jeep Excursion

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213
Spot natural wonders along the Denali Highway in Alaska. This 4-hour guided Jeep excursion was named #2 on 'National Geographic Traveler' magazine’s ‘Drive of a Lifetime’ list. Ride along the 135-mile (217.261-km) gravel road, and enjoy the scenic views of Denali, the Alaska Range, and glaciers.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$173.34
From
$173.34

Paddle Rafting on the Nenana Gorge

Paddle Rafting on the Nenana Gorge

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51
Seize the chance to try white water rafting in one of the world’s prime locations—Alaska’s River Nenana gorge in Denali National Park—on this half-day paddle rafting adventure. With a guide on board to give instructions, conquer the Nenana’s foaming Class III-IV rapids, paddling downstream against a backdrop of Denali’s pinewoods and peaks. All necessary equipment and a choice of departure times are provided for ease and convenience.
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  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$115.50
From
$115.50