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Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Ohio
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Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Hey everyone! My hubby & I are planning our trip to AK starting from around June 28th to July 6th. So approx. 8-9 nights total. We were debating between a cruise and land vacation, and we decided a land vacation might be more adventurous and fun for us! We're 25 & 26, so we figured we'd take advantage of our energy now :)

We've been trying to plan what we'd like to do, and our biggest priority is seeing wildlife and being out in nature.. we like to backpack and camp, so we figured staying a couple of nights in Denali would be perfect for us.

We'd really like to get as far off the beaten path as possible (without getting lost of course), so we were thinking Wonder Lake would be the best campground for us... now I've heard the mosquito comments, and I think we can bear that, but I'm wondering if we should plan to do 2 or 3 nights all at Wonder Lake? Or do people suggest we do 1 night at Savage or Tek, etc. and then another night at Wonder Lake??

Also, we originally thought of just doing 2 nights in Denali at the beginning of our trip so that we'll have plenty of days to travel south to Kenai, Seward, Homer, etc. But do you think 3 nights would be necessary to get our fill of Denali??

We plan to take our tent and backpacks on the flight with us, but may consider renting a stove once in AK, since taking ours on the plane may be tricky.

We could also use some help on day hiking in the park.. do people have any good hiking suggestions from Wonder Lake? Or would we need to hop on the bus and go east from WL to go hiking?

Thanks in advance for any advice!! Our trip is soon, and we know WL is going to start filling up fast, so we're trying to jump on this. We can't wait!

fti
MN
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1. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Welcome to TA.

You will have to check www.reservedenali.com to see availability but I think Wonder Lake campground is already booked up for some dates around July 4th. So going early in your trip is probably best.

I assume you would be driving from Anchorage? If so, I would spend one night near the park entrance then spend the rest of the time at Wonder Lake. If you left early enough from Anchorage, you could take the last camper bus (4pm I think? from the park entrance) but you would not get your choice of campsites which is a huge negative in my opinion. Maybe fly to Anchorage and if you get in early enough, drive to Talkeetna or thereabouts. Then the next day drive to the park and take the 11am or 2pm camper bus. I have driven all the way from Anchorage to Denali on my day of arrival into Anchorage but it makes for a long day. And if the weather is nice, you don't want to be rushing - if the Mountain is out it is beautiful.

Personally I love Wonder Lake campground and it is my campground of choice in spite of the mosquitoes. I have spent time there the last two summers and going back again in June. Spending two nights at the campground really means only one full day to hike or ride the shuttle buses. Spending three nights at Wonder Lake gives you more options.

If you look back the past 3-4 pages of posts you will find some great info on hiking in Denali. Denalicat and Fly's&Foto's give some great advice. You also might want to pick up a copy of Ike Waits' book on Denali NP (camping, hiking and photography is in the subtitle).

You can do some hiking near Wonder Lake but personally I feel it is better east of there. But that is not a problem - there are two camper buses leaving about 6.30am and 8am that you can use or a shuttle bus usually turns around before 11am heading east. So you can get plenty of hiking in during your time there.

I always bring my campstove and just buy fuel once I get to Alaska. It packs well in my suitcase. But now with most airlines charging for a second piece of luggage, it might be easier to pack lighter. Fortunately I am exempt from the extra piece charge this year since I booked all my flights to AK before the charges were announced.

John

USA
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2. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Hi John!

I am backpacking the Colorado Trail this summer & after I purchased tickets got a notice from Orbitz that my airlines Delta will be charging extra retroactively. Hmmmm... can I get around that? I need that extra bag to haul all my backpacking equipment since we are doing a long backpacking trip.

Hi Charway!

I would agree that if you stay at WL get at least 2 days to dayhike & get on a bus east to get up in the high tundra. I like Thorofare, Polychrome, etc.

Backpackers carry a lightweight canister stove on the planes no problem, but not liquid fuel stoves. For the price of the rental plus the hassle you could almost buy a new canister pocket rocket & bring it in its original box brand new. It's about the size of a deck of cards.

fti
MN
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3. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Denalicat, thanks for your post. Not sure what to say. I just checked Delta's website and it doesn't mention "if ticket purchased before XX date, two pieces of checked luggage are free." Maybe I did recall that Delta (I know it was one of the airlines) had buried somewhere in their terms that you could get a full refund if you didn't agree to the change. If that was Delta, that was their escape for being able to change their contract of carriage after you bought your ticket.

American's and Northwest's sites are clear about if purchased before a certain date you still get the old allowance. You might want to check the Delta forum on Flyertalk. They are usually really good about posting stuff like that:

flyertalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=489

Are you by chance traveling in first class? I think that automatically gives you more allowance.

Fortunately I am exempt from the one piece rule since I bought my American Airlines ticket for July last year and on my other camping trip I have elite status with Northwest so I get more allowance anyway.

I assume obviously that you are no longer in Anchorage?

John

Ohio
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4. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Alright, great! Thanks for the advice John, lol. That answers the question I posted for in in my other thread. Since we'll be getting in pretty late on Friday evening, I think we'll just drive part of the way and overnight somewhere.. maybe Talkeetne you say? I'll start looking for lodging.

Then we can leave early the next morning and have plenty of time to catch a camper bus, check out the visitor center, etc.

I think my hubby just mentioned that he has one of those lightweight backpacking stoves that uses canisters.. so we'll plan to pack that and buy canisters once we get there. Probably need to try and find a Wal-Mart or someplace in Anchorage?

USA
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5. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Thanks John for indulging my extra luggage aside!

Yep! I live in Alaska so am flying down to backpack.

I'll call Delta!

Harrisburg...
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6. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Walmart, REI, and most grocery stores (definitely Fred Meyer) all carry propane cannisters. If you forget, Riley Creek Merchantile at the Riley Creek Campground inside Denali NP has them.

USA
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7. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Don't count on Riley Mercantile for the isobutane-propane canisters that the little ultra-light stoves use. Get those in Anchorage.

Harrisburg...
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8. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

Good advice denalicat. I was only thinking about the canisters not the minis.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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9. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

I would have a back-up plan for Wonder Lake. For me, the mosquitos were absolutely maddening -- be sure to bring a head net! So personally I'd either plan on only one night at WL, or at least have a back-up campsite reserved at another campground. Tek probably won't be open yet, but Savage River or Sanctuary would be a nice alternative if you need to flee WL!

You definitely need at least 3 nights at Denali - 2 nights only gives you enough time to ride the shuttle one day (although there are hiking opportunities at the entrance and at Savage River for your arrival/departure day).

fti
MN
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10. Re: Help: Tent Camping 2-3 nights in Denali.. WL all 3 nights?

>>I would have a back-up plan for Wonder Lake. For me, the mosquitos were absolutely maddening -- be sure to bring a head net! So personally I'd either plan on only one night at WL, or at least have a back-up campsite reserved at another campground.

One night at Wonder Lake is really a bad use of your time. Arrive one day, leave the next. No time to really do anything. If this is your only option, just stay at the entrance and take the shuttle bus two days.

I think knowledge and preparation are key. Due to the beauty of the Wonder Lake area and the great view of the Mountain when out, I put up with the mosquitoes. But I:

1) bring a headnet

2) bring bugdope - I use DEET but others have suggested other things

2) bring an Off Power Pad lamp. Simple gadget but it really helps dispel the mosquitoes especially when cooking and eating. Costs under $15

I am not sure how having a back-up campsite reservation will help. Then you have two reservations and if you get to Wonder Lake then decide it is not for you, it is really too late to head back to another campground. You really need to decide in advance if you are prepared to deal with the mosquitoes. Wonder Lake campground fills up pretty much every day in the summer so many people, myself included, are willing to deal with it.

John