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.