Overview of Denali National Park
Denali National Park is a perfect 91 mile mountain bike ride. The Denali Park Road is a combination of delights; 76 miles of graded dirt, 15 miles of pavement, and all the wildlife encounters a person could ask for on a bike trip. Bear, wolverine, caribou, wolf, fox, golden eagles, moose, and a hundred other species of much smaller animals live in the park. The Park Road has eight passes and ascending the hills is much easier when heading out of the park rather than heading in to Wonder Lake and Kantishna.
Riding out of the park allows cyclist longer down hills and a hospitality destination at the end of the ride. The road narrows at mile 31 and is without shoulders to the back end of the park. Expansive vistas and panoramas are the norm in Denali. Most motorists are cool to cyclists and slow for them as not to dust them on drive by’s.
Shuttle buses are informal and pretty well loaded up during the mornings and peak season. The main season is between mid-May and mid-September when services are offered at park headquarters. Afternoon buses are generally less populated. The benefit is that the wildlife is out and busier in the evening rather than during the day. Each bus can only accommodate two bikes so plan accordingly. To make reservations, call 1-800-622-7275.
Riding on the park road is just like commuting to work. Look out for bus traffic from both direction and watch out for the occasional road sign at bridges.
Bring your own repair kits or potentially suffer detrimental problems out on your own… IN ALASKA!!! Food, water, clothing, or whatever it is you need… you are on your own, city slicker. Come prepared to survive… or Alaska will bury you without regret. Speaking of regret, do not feel bad if you do not see Mount McKinley. Cloudy weather from elevation 3000 to 8000 feet is the norm, 66% of the summer, so the Big One is often times invisible from the park road.
Getting ThereDriving by car to Denali is 240 miles north of Anchorage and 30 miles north of Cantwell. Denali lies 125 miles south of Fairbanks and 12 miles south of Healy. Other ways to get to Denali include the AK Railroad, tour buses and shuttles and personal airplanes.
Red TapeThere are lots of regulations inside the park due to National Park status, but very few effect bicycle riders any differently then any other tourist.
External LinksFor information on where you can rent a bike in the Denali Park area, call the Healy-Cantwell Chamber of Commerce at 907-683-4636 or check out these websites.
Map of Denali NP
CampingEntering the park cost ten bucks and gives riders seven days in the park. If you are going to camp, your ten bones goes directly to campground fees, so that is kind of nice.
Denali has six campgrounds, but five of them are located within 35 miles of the park entrance. Therefore, unless you get a backcountry overnight permit and plan on getting off the road by 400 meters or out of site of the road, riders will have one day of 50 plus miles between Wonder Lake and Igloo Creek. The Eielson Visitor Center is about 20 miles from Wonder Lake and is a nice place to visit and break up the big day in the saddle.
Store your bikes in designated racks at campgrounds and make sure to attain a bear proof food container before you start the trip.