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Question Re tundra wilderness tour

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Yllwjckt1
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Question Re tundra wilderness tour

My wife and I will be visiting denali on may 20 this year. Our first time toalaska and to denali. The only offerings left for the tundra wilderness tours on that date are at 5 am and 1:30 pm. Which would you choose and why? We are more late night people than early morning people so we are leaning towards the 1:30 tour. However, if the early tour increases our chances to see wildlife, mt McKinley, etc we will bite the bullet and take the 5 am tour.

USA
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1. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

Welcome to TA-AK, Yilwijck.

Most of us here recommend a shuttle to at least Eielson Visitor Center or Wonder Lake, rather than TWT which only goes as far as Stony Overlook, not to EVC or WL.

I would choose a 7 or 8 am Wonder Lake instead & get off at Eielson if the weather is bad.

Yllwjckt1
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2. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

Per park service website, it does not appear either location is available via shuttle on May 20? Am I missing something? Also, we like that the TWThas a naturalist and seats are supposed to be more comfortable? I have some health issues and not able to get out and do any hiking. Per our research the TWT tour would go farther into the park on May 20.

USA
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3. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

No, my apologies! I'm the one missing something.... I missed your travel date!! Shuttles only go to Toklat May 20.

You'll be fine on the TWT!

Wildlife that early in the season tend to be out & about all day. It's only in the heat of the summer that they take siestas.

fti
MN
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4. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

I have to disagree with denalicat. The TWT and the shuttle bus both go to the same Toklat rest stop that time of year. I would still choose the shuttle bus. That way you can get off the bus at will and hike around a bit - even walk on the road past Toklat if you want. Shuttle bus has specific departure times (per the reservedenali.com website).

With the TWT, you choose the 5am or 1.30pm tour time, but in reality you don't know the exact departure time of your tour until the day before. The morning tours leave between 5am and something like 10am. The afternoon tours leave between 1.30pm and something like 4pm.

The shuttle bus is way less expensive than the TWT. You don't get the hot drink or the "snack lunch" but the lunch is nothing to write home about. Just bring your own food on the shuttle bus and if the weather is nice, get off the bus!

USA
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5. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

Yes, John, but Yllwjckt said he or she has health problems & can't get out of the bus for hiking, plus wanted the naturalist on the bus.

John, I thought if the road was good that time of year the TWT sometimes chose to go to Stony. Is it set in stone it only goes to Toklat?

I have never ridden the TWT or had the lunch, so can't address that!

Edited: 9:24 am, February 10, 2014
fti
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6. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

Sorry - I missed that. But for the OP, there is not a "naturalist" on the TWT, just the driver who gives commentary. 99% of shuttle bus drivers also give commentary.

Yes, it is set in stone that all buses turn around at Toklat through May 31st. The road is blockaded so no vehicles can go further unless they are park employees on park business, contractors with trucks, etc. Only on/after June 1st can TWT buses go further.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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7. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

I am also of the opinion that there is no reason or value to paying more for the TWT vs. the shuttle bus to Toklat (or beyond for that matter, when the road is open). Guests will receive warm beverages and a crummy boxed "lunch" on the TWT, plus there is a camera with video screen on the TWT bus that you won't have on the shuttle . . . but those features do not justify the high price charged for the TWT.

Sturgeon
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8. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

They will also have many more time slot options if they choose the park shuttle rather than the TWT

USA
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9. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

Thanks John- that's good to know about the TWT going only to Toklat.

I don't have experience with TWT tours. It just sounded like Yllwjckt had made a decision that they wanted the TWT, but just wanted advise regarding the early or late tour.

Over the years, I have found that on the earlier buses I "tend" to have a better chance to see the mountain, since it tends to make its own weather & cloud up by afternoon.

Well actually I did get on a TWT bus once when a coyote came after me & nosed me up an embankment on the road & a TWT driver saved me LOL. Everyone was watching the coyote come after me on their drop-down screen!

fti
MN
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10. Re: Question Re tundra wilderness tour

denalicat, I have to agree with you that the earliest shuttle buses have a better chance of seeing the Mountain. Having tent camped at Wonder Lake, I have often seen the Mountain late in the evening or early in the morning, then even by 10am the Mountain is covered up. Happened last June. Awesome photos at 8.30am at Reflection Pond. By the time we started our Stony Dome hike about 10.30am, you could see some of the Mountain but not that much. By noon, it was totally covered. That happens a LOT.

I remember a TWT bus picking up two hikers near Toklat. They had no idea that there was a bear and her cub on the other side of the bridge and they would have met once the bus would have pulled away. That was the only time I saw a tour bus pick up a day hiker!