Donna Dewhurst

Anchorage To Denali

Some of the country's most iconic national parks are within easy reach of Anchorage, including the towering peaks and amazing wildlife of Denali National Park. When conditions are right, you'll be able to spot the peak of Denali and many other mountains of the Alaska Range from portions of urban Anchorage or along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. 

From Anchorage there are four main ways to get to Denali National Park:

The most popular way to experience Denali from Anchorage is a round-trip sightseeing flight departing from Anchorage or Talkeetna. You'll still get views of the mountain, save on time en route, and be back in town in time for dinner. Flights are available from Merrill Field or Lake Hood in Anchorage. If you plan to visit Talkeetna, the community's airfield is also a popular option for Denali flightseeing. 

If you want maximum flexibility, rent a car in Anchorage. It is five hours from the city to the park entrance, with most of the accommodations just one mile farther up the highway along the Nenana River. By renting a car, you'll be able to go at your own pace and stop wherever you see fit. Remember: private vehicles are only allowed on the first 15 miles of road inside the park during the summer. Beyond that, you'll need to make arrangements to hop on a park bus or another specially permitted vehicle to drive any further into the park.

If you love rail travel or won't be renting a car, consider the Alaska Railroad. During the summer, the train departs daily from Anchorage, arriving in Denali at 4 p.m. In winter, the train passes by Denali on its weekly route to Fairbanks. The trip north passes through the town of Talkeetna. The Denali depot is right next to the park's visitor center. You won't have to wait to see Denali either; many of the best views are along the way.

Motorcoaches also connect the city and the park. During the summer, Alaska Park Connection runs a daily motorcoach service from Anchorage to Denali. Booking with this company gives you a guaranteed seat on a motorcoach with an expert to do all the driving. Many cruise lines offer land packages pre- or post-cruise, so check with yours if planning to cruise Alaska.

If you plan to travel to Denali, there are a few resources that may be helpful. While in Anchorage, visit the Alaska Public Lands Information Center at 4th and F downtown for information on all federal lands in the state, including the park. In print for decades and updated annually, The MILEPOST book, is the best-selling travel guide to Alaska, with mile-by-mile descriptions of all major highways and roads in Alaska and northwestern Canada.

How far away is Denali?

On a clear day you can see Denali, once known as Mount McKinley, from Anchorage. North America's tallest mountain is located in Denali National Park, a four to five hour drive from Anchorage or an...