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Denali National Park - 5 Things to Know Before You Go

Being home to 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, and the tallest mountain in North America, the 6+ million acre Denali National Park absolutely lives up to the awe and wonder that it has become synonymous with. We spent 2 days exploring the vast landscape and couldn’t even scratch the surface of just how grand it really is! In our exploring we were able to identify some things that anyone visiting Denali National Park should know before they go! Let’s dive in...

*Be sure to check out our "Alaska: Denali National Park" vlog for a closer look at our time in Denali*

1. There is only one road

That’s right… The United States’ 3rd largest national park only has one road in and out. The 92 mile Denali Park Road is 92 miles long, BUT only the first 15 miles (From Riley Creek Campground to the Savage River area) are open to public traffic. The remaining 77 miles can only be accessed on one of the park's buses. You can find more info on the buses and reservations HERE.

Since we visited in the spring shoulder season (mid-April until May 19), we were fortunate enough to be able to drive Denali Park Road all the way to the Teklanika River rest area at mile 30. They don’t always open up the road to public traffic before the on season. It really just depends on weather, but we were very grateful to have had that privilege!

2. There aren’t many options for food

Along the 92 mile Denali Park Road, you will only find a couple of options for food and those are found at the entrance of the park… Morino Grill and Riley Creek Mercantile. Just like the visitor’s center and gift shop, the grill and mercantile are only open during the on season (roughly May 19-mid September) and the selection is pretty limited. So, take our advice and pack your food and drinks for your time in the park. It will save a lot of time and hangry arguments!

If you’re flying into Anchorage, there are plenty of options for grocery stores to stock up before heading to Denali, but if you need to buy groceries nearby, we recommend the Three Bears that’s 11 miles north of the park entrance in Healy. They also offer some prepared foods, but if you’re looking for a sit-down dining experience, we found Black Diamond Grill to be a great option!

3. The weather changes frequently

One thing that we definitely learned about Denali very quickly is… If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes! No kidding, the weather in Denali can change drastically in a matter of 5 minutes, so be sure to layer up clothes and bring rain gear for hikes. J