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Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

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New York
posts: 13
reviews: 6
Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

I've read that the Denali Wilderness Tour involves some scary road sections without guard rails. Should the seriously heights-challenged avoid the tour? Is it possible to take part of the tour? Alternative tour suggestions? Thanks.

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 1,716
reviews: 5
1. Re: Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

The "worst" part of the tour for someone afraid of heights would be the section going into Polychrome Pass. Sit on the right side of the bus going outbound from the visitor's center, and sit on the left side coming back. This will keep you on the mountain side where you will not see the downhill side of the road.

There are NO alternatives to the bus that I know of, other than to pass by the opportunity and enjoy the much more limited view from the highway. You would also miss out on the animals.

One alternative that I hate to recommend is to exit the bus at the East for of the Toklat River. This gets you out of the bus before the climb to Polychrome Pass. You can then take another bus back to the park entrance or hike around and then take a bus back. There are innumerable hikes through the tundra and mountains you can take, but one "civilized" hike I recommend is at Savage River, about mile 12 in the park, as far as you can drive yourself.

Good luck, it is impressive that you face up to the problem and seek solutions.

'71

New York
posts: 13
reviews: 6
2. Re: Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

Thanks so much for your thoughtful and helpful response.

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 1,716
reviews: 5
3. Re: Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

Whoops, I meant to type "exit the bus at the East Fork of the Toklat River", and it came out as "East for". That is the river right after Sable Mountain.

'71

Los Angeles...
posts: 121
reviews: 16
4. Re: Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

There are some scary sections on the bus tour if you're afraid of heights--most definitely. My own fear is almost disabling at times, e.g. when walking on some narrow trails with a steep dropoff my eyes have to be glued to the trail otherwise I'll go into vertigo mode and have to grab a tree to hang on to for dear life! But I did do the bus tour and am so glad I didn't miss it. Incredible vistas and miles of open wilderness--not to mention the chance to see a wolf--kept my mind off my own fears. If you talk to the driver before you leave (or I guess before you buy a ticket), he or she will talk to you about the best side of the bus to sit on to avoid staring down the scary dropoffs. The last thing the driver wants is someone causing a ruckus on the bus!

I hope you find a way to enjoy Denali and make the most of your trip!!

Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
posts: 1,716
reviews: 5
5. Re: Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

Thanks for the comments, Fishergal. I was on a mountain hike in McKinley with my sister around Mt. Eielson and we came to a scree field - loose, sharp rocks in the process of tumbling down the mountain. We were following a Dahl sheep trail, so there was an established trail to follow - about one foot path wide. I told her to be careful and to keep her body vertical, not to lean into the mountain, and then led the way across the scree field. After we crossed I told her how dangerous it was. She answered that she figured it was ... I had stopped talking as I crossed.

I got even with her at the base of the mountain where we encountered the crushed grass where the big grizzlies rolled to scratch their backs...

'71

not always the gentleman!

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
posts: 28,640
reviews: 35
6. Re: Vertigo and Denali Wilderness Tour

I also want to add that they have a great safety record, in case you were wondering. :)

The bus ride is really great and not to be missed.

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