RV Camping in Denali National Park

Picture of Wonder Lake in Denali National Park

Wonder Lake in Denali National Park

The sight of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley is something we urge all RV campers to see at least once. “Enormous”, “mysterious” and “constantly changing” are adjectives motorhome travelers have used to describe North America’s tallest peak. The wild frontier waiting to be explored at Denali National Park, created to celebrate McKinley’s awesome beauty, can be appreciated in many ways. Let’s look at some helpful information to help you plan your Denali RV trip.

Getting to Denali National Park
The easiest thing to say about getting to Denali is “It’s a long way from here!” That doesn’t take into account, however, the amazingly scenic route you’ll take to get there. About 240 miles north of Anchorage and 120 miles south of Fairbanks, Denali is most easily accessible by traveling the Alaska Highway (Alcan).

Assuming you’ll start in Ferndale, WA by picking up your El Monte RV rental, travel to Prince George, BC, than along Hart Highway to Dawson Creek, BC, starting point for the Alaska Highway. It’s then a fantastically scenic stretch across British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to the beautiful port city Anchorage, AK. The distance from Ferndale to Anchorage is about 2300 miles. It’s then only 300 miles up Alaska’s Hwy-3 to Denali. A note for RV drivers-the Alcan is a two-lane highway that may have “frost heaves” in the pavement. You won’t be driving nearly as fast as you would on a California interstate! Since you’ll be stopping at least one night along the way, use this RV campground finder at Campgrounds-Alaska.com.

RV Camping at Denali National Park
Vehicles are only allowed fifteen miles into the Park, but two RV campgrounds are located near the entrance. The third campground that allows RVs is Teklanika River (Tek) Campground, twenty-nine miles into the National Park. To stay there, you’ll have to park your RV for the duration of your stay and make a reservation for at least three days at the campground. There are no hook-ups at any of the campgrounds, so plan for dry camping. Here’s a link to more information on RV campgrounds at Denali National Park.

Exploring Denali National Park
The first thing you should know about exploring the wonders of Denali is that it won’t be from your RV. Shuttle buses and charter tours are the easiest ways to see the sights. Plan to make reservations early for these. If you’re up for an unforgettable bike trip, traveling Denali by bicycle is an even more intimate way to explore. There are also almost limitless hiking opportunities in this six-million acre preserve.

No matter which way you travel, you’re sure to see abundant wildlife. Moose, grizzly and black bears, caribou, Dall’s sheep and wolves are just a few of the species you’re liable to spy. Look to the skies for a chance to see golden and bald eagles, and watch the undergrowth for fox, arctic ground squirrels and marmots.

There’s one very special activity you’re not likely to experience at other National Parks-a visit to a sled dog kennel! That’s where you’ll see the dogs that transport Park rangers in winter.

If you’re looking for photography subjects, simply stand still and point your camera in any direction! Mt. McKinley, even on cloudy days, is a once-in-a-lifetime photo op. Wildlife, glaciers and stunning mountain views will fill your camera with exciting memories.

And we can’t leave Denali National Park without mentioning the mountaineering possibilities. Mighty Mt. McKinley attracts climbers from around the world. Guided climbs are available, or experienced climbers can go solo. There are also many other mountains there that offer challenging climbs. One more way to “climb” the Park’s mountains is by “flightseeing” in small planes that land directly on the glaciers!

We’ve only scratched the surface of what an RV camping vacation to Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park can be. Use the NPS site for Denali to plan your vacation, as well as helpful guides such as TheMilePost.com, TravelAlaska.com and NorthtoAlaska.com. Your trip to Denali can be as unique as you and your fellow travelers, but it won’t be one you soon forget.

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2 Responses to RV Camping in Denali National Park

  1. Zach says:

    One things to keep in mind when visiting Denali also is the weather. Weather in the Alaska Range and around McKinley can be sudden changing. If you are planning on going for even a short hike around Denali be sure to bring clothes for hot (90’s F) to cold (30’s F) especially if planning on being out overnight. It’s best to be prepared when going into the bush in Alaska.

  2. Elyse says:

    We camped in Denali two summers ago. It was awesome, the best way to to see Alaska. It may have been the best vacation we ever took. I actually felt bad for all those people being suffled around on cruise ship buses… rent an rv and go at your own pace!

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