Camping in Denali National Park

Information on camping in Denali and the park bus system is from Denali guidebook entitled: Denali National Park Alaska Guide to Hiking, Photography, and Camping.

Denali Camping

Campsite with view of Mt McKinley

Top of Mt McKinley with tent in the Thorofare Pass area of Denali National Park, Alaska.

Advance reservations are available for camping in Denali National Park at four (4) campgrounds. These campgrounds are Riley Creek Campground (park entrance), Savage Campground (mile 13), Teklanika Campground (mile 29), and Wonder Lake Campground(mile 85). Riley, Savage and Teklanika campgrounds accommodate RV’s and tents. Wonder Lake is a tent-only campground. If you arrive without reservations, go to the Wilderness Access Center to obtain a campground permit if space is available. Sanctuary Campground (mile 22) and Igloo Creek Campground (mile 34) are tent-only. Permits for these campgrounds are only issued in person at the Wilderness Access Center. Riley Creek Campground is open all year but flush toilet facilities and water are only available during the summer season. Other campgrounds, except Wonder Lake, are open during the summer season from late May through early September. Wonder Lake Campground opens in June.

Denali National Park bus system

Mount McKinley viewed from Eielson parking lot

Mount McKinley viewed from Eielson parking lot

In Denali National Park Alaska Guide to Hiking, Photography and Camping, I explain how visitors of all ages and outdoor skill levels can use the buses in Denali National Park for activities ranging from photography to picnics to multi-day backpack trips. Beginning the last weekend of May (Memorial Day Weekend) through mid-September, you must use shuttle buses in Denali National Park to reach most hikes beyond Savage River (mile 14). You can get off the buses in Denali to hike and catch a later bus to continue into the park or to return. Denali shuttle buses run the length of the park road departing from the Denali National Park Entrance Visitor Center at half-hour intervals beginning at 6:00 AM. The last returning bus arrives at the Park Entrance Visitor Center about 11:00 PM. The round trip to Eielson Visitor Center takes about eight (8) hours; Wonder Lake takes about 11 hours. Your ticket is for a guaranteed roundtrip seat on the same bus. However you may get off to hike and return on a later bus on a space available basis.
Mount McKinley, tent and camper.

Mount McKinley, tent and camper.

After hiking, return to the road and stop a green bus. Buses leave Eielson with some vacant seats to allow picking up hikers along the way. Two or three seats were often available when I stopped a bus. I rarely have to wait for the second because the first bus I stopped had no seats. A separate camper bus system provides transportation to campgrounds and to carry Wonder Lake campers and backpackers to drop-off points.

Denali National Park Shuttle bus and campground reservations office

Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture Internet: Reservations are handled by a private contractor which changes occasionally. If this link does not work contact the Denali National Park Headquarters (1-907-683-2294) or via the Internet at to obtain the current information.

Sources of Park Information

Denali National Park and Preserve Headquarters

P.O. Box 9 Denali National Park, Alaska 997559 Phone: 907-683-2294 Website: Park Headquarters provides information about backcountry and road permits, travel conditions, and rules. It does not handle the campground and bus reservations.

Denali Wildlife and Wilderness Calendar

Features outstanding photographs of Denali wildlife and landscapes by some of Alaska’s top photographers.  Nature notes in each month tell what the park animas and plants are doing. Significant dates in park history are noted.  I get a new one every year to serve as inspiration and examples for my next photography outing in Denali. Published by Greatland Graphics. Hanging size: 14×20 inches. Link

All images and content ©Ike Waits