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Shuttle buses & hiking recommendation

San Jose, California
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Shuttle buses & hiking recommendation

Hi, we are in finalizing the details of our Alaskan trip this summer! We will be there fron July 21-30. The plan is to spend 3 days in Denali. Day one we are doing a flight seeing tour to Mt McKinley. Day 2, we have booked the early morning shuttle to wonder lake. We want to do some short hikes that day. Day 3 we wanted to choose some units and do longer hikes there.

1. should I reserve a shuttle bus to eileson visitor center on day 3 as well? Which units would u recommend for the longer hikes. I have heard that unit12 & 13 are very pretty.

2. For day 2, if we want to do some shorter hikes, what would u recommend. We want to go all the way to wonder lake to see the mountain if possible.

Really appreciate ur help



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1. Re: Shuttle buses & hiking recommendation

Are you doing the flightseeing from Denali or from Talkeetna? In any case, that won't take all of Day 1. Usually it is a1-2 hours.

Do you depart the Denali area on Day 4? If so, where do you go to on Day 4?

I would reserve the shuttle bus to Wonder Lake on days 2 and 3. And if you call to reserve/change, you can actually get a third day for free. So depending on where you are going on Day 4, you might reserve another shuttle bus on Day 4 and only go part way into the park that day. The weather will be a deciding factor too. If the weather is great on Day 2, I would take the longer hike that day.

There are a couple of Top Questions about Denali that deal with great day hikes. I would use those as a start, then after reading those maybe come back with more specific questions.

Most people who do day trips don't refer to the unit numbers since on day trips they are irrelevant (units have quotas only for overnight backcountry campers). So you might be better off referring to location - "How is hiking up Stony Dome?" etc.

I would discourage you from taking "some shorter hikes" on Day 2. That means you really don't totally understand the terrain and the bus system. You move very slowly inside Denali NP. You might make about 1 mph on your hikes in Denali since it is trail-less, you have to figure out a path on your own, you are stopping for photos, might have to detour due to wildlife, etc, etc. Also, if you take multiple hikes in one day, that means waiting for a bus that might be full to get from the end of hike 1 to the start of hike 2. Then what if the first bus coming by after hike 2 is full and you wait again? It could be a long day of waiting and not hiking. Much better is to plan one good 2-5 hour hike each day you are in the park.

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2. Re: Shuttle buses & hiking recommendation

Units 12 & 13 are very popular backpacking units that surround Mt Eielson with views of Mt McKinley. However, they involve a serious water crossing across t so would be a more than hardy day hike. Those areas are hikes for talking to the rangers at Eielson visitor center since the river can be too high. The units are across the Thorofare river from the visitor center.

Check out some of the day hikes in the top questions for Denali on the Denali forum. Then holler if you have any questions!

One of my favorite hikes when the mountain is out is to ask the driver to get off the shuttle at Fish Creek (the bus drivers might know it as the Fish Creek turnaround from the olden days) east of Eielson. Then climb the Thoro bench which is up on the right (north) side. Hike the bench & drop down to Eielson visitor center. When the mountain is out it is amazing views & photo opts. Always watch for bears in ravines.

San Jose, California
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3. Re: Shuttle buses & hiking recommendation

Thanks fti & denalicat for the replies. I will look at the top questions for day hike recommendations. We are doing the flight seeing in Talkeetna. On day 1, we plan to leave Anchorage early morning and do the flight seeing tour at 5:00 in the evening. We will spend the night in Denali, but we won't have time to get into the park. We have to explore the park on day 2 & 3 and we leave Denali on day 4 ( to go towards Seward) I will plan to do one hike per day to make the most out of my trip. Will also looks at fish creek hike!

4. Re: Shuttle buses & hiking recommendation

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