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Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

California
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64 posts
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Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

My family, 4 adults and 2 toddlers, will be visiting Denali on May 20 and 21. The only shuttle bus running at that time is the Toklat River bus at mile 53 with a cost of $22.50 for adult and free for children under 14. On the other hand, both the Natural History and the Tundra Wilderness tour buses are available on those dates for $52 and $94 respectively for adults and half price for children.

Question 1: Other than the tour guide, will the tour bus take us to different sightseeing spots than the shuttle bus?

Question 2: Should we take the AM or PM tours for better wildlife viewing?

Since the cost for the shuttle bus is much cheaper than the tour bus, we just want to know if it's worth paying the extra money for a tour guide. We're not planning to get on and off the shuttle buses as we have to bring along our car seats.

Any advice is welcome.

Thanks.

pine hill, nj
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1. Re: Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

hello there. there really is no difference between the 2 other than one gives more history ect. The shuttle bus you can get on and off of and gives you more freedom to hike. As far the tour bus taking you to different spots, there are no other spots. It's one road in and out. On both buses everyone is on the lookout to spot the big 5 animals. I've done both, and I only you can make the desicision. If you are looking for something a little more educational, you'll have to bite the bullit and pay. However if you just want to look out the window and enjoy the views, you can do that on a shuttle bus. Some shuttle bus drivers are real chattly and will give you a little history lesson(as in our case 2 years ago), other times, they are silent waiting for a passenger to shout out an animal sighting. Which ever you choose, try to sit on the left behind the driver. Better views heading in. Hope this helps. Enjoy you visit either way.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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2. Re: Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

tripgirl was very correct - there is only one road, and so you don't get any different spots or locations . . . and while some shuttle drivers aren't chatty (it's considered a transportation service not a tour) most have been doing it for years and are very well informed and can offer you a great tour. You do have the advantage of being able to get off one shuttle and catching another one later - you can't do that with the tour buses.

As far as animal sightings go, many people are sure that animals are busiest first thing in the morning, but at that time of year, the sunlight is almost 24 hours . . . they can be active any time of the day so I think I would pick what ever one works best with your schedule and will keep your toddlers happiest. Good luck! :)

California
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3. Re: Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

Thanks for the advice, tripgirl74 and coalminer. We tried to get more info from the national park service representative on the difference between the tour and shuttle buses. They told us the tour buses do hit other stops and allow you to take pictures. Maybe that's their way of getting us to take the tour bus.

The shuttle bus does sound like the way to go. Since we have to take along our car seats, we're probably not going to get on and off the bus. Does the shuttle bus stop along the ways to allow you to take pictures? We know they will do restroom stops every hour but not sure about picture spots.

Please share your experience if you have taken a ride on the shuttle bus in the past.

Thanks.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

hello again! The shuttle drivers stop for bathroom breaks (same as the tour buses) as well as photo ops. All some one has to do is say "bear!" "moose!" or whatever you think you are seeing, and they will stop the bus as soon as it appropriate to do so. They also usually stop for views of Denali, if it's not obscurred by clouds. Also a bit of a hint for the grizzly's - they are very blonde . . . . so look for that along the hillsides. Good luck! :)

5. Re: Denali Tour Buses vs. Shuttle Buses

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