We had an absolutely awesome tour!! Saw so many Grizzly Mumma bear & cubs. Moose & Coyotes. Our bus... read more
We had an absolutely awesome tour!! Saw so many Grizzly Mumma bear & cubs. Moose & Coyotes. Our bus... read more
Yes- the bus sucked. Yes- there were boring parts Yes- we prayed for it to be over YES! We would... read more
This is a very informative tour and the guides are excellent. It is not only a learning tour but the beauty of Denali National Park is hard to explain unless U have been there. The sear size is beyond belief. This was part of our Celebrity Cruise/Tour. There is an upgrade which takes up to 8 hours. Our schedule did not fit that one but the folks that have taken it rated it very high. A lot will have to do with the weather as well. If it is hot or rainy then that would be a bummer. Only 30% of the folks that visit Alaska get to see the mountain since it tends to hide behind the clouds quite a bit. The trees are basically the same but still pretty to see and hear about from the guides. The flowers fall into the same category. We did see some eagles, ravens, and about one zillion mosquitoes which are a pain in the everywhere. Strongly suggest you bring repellent if they are out when U visit. They will not make U sick since they carry no disease, but again a pain to deal with. Bringing an extra snack is also a good idea. They do give U an energy bar but that won't take U far. We also had a great talk by a native Indian from the area that was very informative and she answered all questions asked. Our...This is a very informative tour and the guides are excellent. It is not only a learning tour but the beauty of Denali National Park is hard to explain unless U have been there. The sear size is beyond belief. This was part of our Celebrity Cruise/Tour. There is an upgrade which takes up to 8 hours. Our schedule did not fit that one but the folks that have taken it rated it very high. A lot will have to do with the weather as well. If it is hot or rainy then that would be a bummer. Only 30% of the folks that visit Alaska get to see the mountain since it tends to hide behind the clouds quite a bit. The trees are basically the same but still pretty to see and hear about from the guides. The flowers fall into the same category. We did see some eagles, ravens, and about one zillion mosquitoes which are a pain in the everywhere. Strongly suggest you bring repellent if they are out when U visit. They will not make U sick since they carry no disease, but again a pain to deal with. Bringing an extra snack is also a good idea. They do give U an energy bar but that won't take U far. We also had a great talk by a native Indian from the area that was very informative and she answered all questions asked. Our bus driver was super and entertaining and very knowledgeable. I highly recommend U take the shorter tour unless U R up for 8 hours + and a long day. U may or may not see bear or moose or anything or U may. Simply put a pure crap shoot. I am glad we opted for the short tour it was just enough to get a taste of one of the USA's most awesome national parks with some unreal views! Pray to the mountain gods and maybe U will get to see Denali in its majesty!MoreShow less
Stunning scenery, fabulous flowers and wonderful wildlife!!! Would strongly recommend that you take one of the longer tours into the park: there is much more to see, the scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, the flowers are wonderful and there is much more chance of seeing wildlife. If you want to save money, you can actually take the park shuttle to all the places this tour goes and see the same scenery and wildlife there as well. The advantage of this tour is that there is interesting narration, the driver has a powerful video camera which he uses to capture distant wildlife and project onto drop-down screens, they provide a boxed lunch and a lovely full colour booklet as a reminder of your visit. (There is also an opportunity to buy a generic DVD which also includes footage from your specific trip shipped to you in a few weeks - rather expensive). This trip was included in the overall cost of our cruisetour with HAL; $167 if purchased separately, but well worth it, I think.
The tour is long (approx. 8 hours): it takes you about 55 miles into the park, the ride can be bumpy and is not for the young or those who have a fear of heights, but there are bathroom stops every 90 mins. Luckily we were on the first tour (leaving at 6am) which is when there is a greater chance of seeing wildlife. The reason it’s such a long ride is the rough unmade road travelled as well as the need to yield to oncoming traffic (parts of the road are single lane). We had an excellent tour driver (Don) who was very knowledgeable (30 years in Denali!) and knew where to look for most things - I imagine experiences can differ with different guides.
We were very fortunate: the weather was sunny and clear, so visibility was great (yes - we saw the Great One!) For the first few miles there were only moose, but as you got further into the Park, the scenery became more spectacular and we saw Dall sheep, the reason for which the park was established (only specks to the naked eye, but clear on the monitor), no wolves this time, but FIVE grizzlies: first a grizzly sow with 2 cubs eating berries; then a brown bear trying to cool off by sitting in the river; then a bear who was obviously on the scent of a mate! We were able to watch these for some time. There were no herds of caribou – just a lonely one grazing on the hillside, we watched a cute ground squirrel for some time and spotted a hoary marmot at the roadside. The wildflowers, especially at Stoney Outlook, were spectacular when we were there. On the way back we saw more Dall sheep – this time closer to – and a golden eagle being chased by a crow!! There is even an opportunity to try on a pair of caribou antlers (or even moose!) for a funny photo. Finally, on the way out of the Park we watched a bull moose grazing near the road for some time. Be aware though, that this is NOT a safari park – Denali is 6m acres and there are no fences round it either: you are NOT guaranteed sightings, although the drivers will do their best.
NB wherever you are in the area in June, July and August, there are mosquitoes and they find their way onto the bus, so bring repellent from home (in case they are sold out in Denali!) We were also advised to bring a packed lunch to supplement the boxed snack provided on the tour; we brought along the rest of the pizza we failed to eat the night before!
When they tell you that you can bring extra snacks and drinks, take them up on that! Even the half-day tour is a long day even though they provide a snack box and drink! Bathroom stops are limited and the ride can be bumpy. We had an excellent tour driver (David!) who really brought things to life for us. The drives can seem a bit perilous so I was very glad to be in the bus!
The views are amazing and the wildlife always appears. Denali has a great plan for preserving things and you can see how that pays off on this tour!
The buses are equipped with small TVs that flip down so that if you spy an animal, the tour driver will stop and catch it with a video feed and a very strong lens so that you feel like it is practically in the bus with you. At the end of the tour, there is a commemorative booklet and the opportunity to purchase a DVD that will also have the animal footage from your specific trip.
I don't know if I would recommend this trip to those with very young children because 8-9 hours on a bus is a very long time. Our family thoroughly enjoyed it and we are already planning our next trip!
This was included in the overall cost of our cruisetoour with Holland- if purchased separately would have been $167 per person. The bus is basically a glorified school bus outfitted with drop down screens - the driver/tourguide videos the specific wildlife sightings on your ride and you can order at additional cost a dVD that is shipped to you in several weeks. We were on the bus from 8am to 4 pm. Saw a grizzly sow with 2 cubs on the roadside; several caribou; the antlers of a bull moose (he was hiding in the foliage); and dall sheep at a distance on the ridge line that could be seen through binoculars. The reason its such a long ride is the rustic rough road travelled as well as the need to yield to oncming passing traffic as parts of the road are single lane. Our driver was well informed and used to be a wildlife photographer- could have done without his personal views/politics- I could see how the experience can vary based on the driver/guide. We did not see any wolves and learned that 2 alpha females were killed by trappers outside the park area and has affected the wold population. The air temperature greatly affects the wildlife viewing- there's been a heat wave the week before and little wildlife sightings as they head for cooler locales within the park. We were lucky as the weather had cooled- but folks, this is not Disneyland and animals don't appear on command! And wildlife don't always accomodate by showing up on the roadside. We did get off the bus for bathroom stops but not allowed off the bus to photograph the wildlife- hiking around the park at your own risk is a better bet for that. We did stop at a tent site within sight of the dall sheep- signs there siad they'd been mosquito-free for 2 1.2 hours! (Wherever you are in the area in June/July, there are super-sized mosquitoes and they find their way onto the bus so bring repellant from home- they were sold out of repellant in Denali and Fairbanks!) Also in the tent were park souveneirs and displays of animal pelts and antlers. Funny photos taken by people posing with moose or caribou antlers over their heads! Were in the lucky 30% of park visitors to see the top of Mt McKinley (aka Denali) unobstructed by clouds. Your choices to see the park are to hike, take the basic shuttle (with no narration) or this tour. It would take days to hike in or out on this route (time we didn't have). Would have taken even longer on the basic shuttle as they stop for any and all hikers. So of the choices, in my opinion, this is the best. We were advised to bring a packed lunch to supplement the boxed snack provided on the tour, but I found the snack adequate, having eaten breakfast before the tour. If you skip breakfast, the boxed snack may not be enough to sustain you on the 8 hour tour. As the boxed lunches at the lodge at $17 each for a trukey sandwich, water and chips, next time I'd buy one and split it with someone else.
Be careful about committing to a ride on the Denali tours. The National Park Service uses Aramark, a private for-profit concessionaire to provide two types of transportation into the park. Both use the same road into and out of the park. Both stop when wildlife is present for viewing. The shuttle bus is more basic and is intended primarily for transportation to various park locations generally for hikers, or campers, but tourists who want to visit the park can ride this bus for about 1/3 the cost of the "tour bus." For nearly 3x the cost, the tour bus provides an "interpreter" to narrate the journey. Ours was a local, recently retired musher who had run 7 Iditarod races, so he had great knowledge and experience, but seemed reluctant to share them. He seemed tired, bored or angry; asking questions, although encouraged, seemed to annoy him, and for most of the trip, he simply drove with no narration. The tour bus also features drop down TV screens on which the driver will display live feed from a video camera he uses from his seat for viewing wildlife. That was a very nice feature, but not worth the extra price. Also included in the inflated price is a simple box lunch, bottled water, and a very attractive spiral bound paperback photo book at the end of the tour. Add $25 or $30 to the shuttle price, and you would have a reasonably priced tour. Anything higher is simply overpriced! Also be aware that once your tickets are booked, your are riding the bus rain or shine, so choose carefully. We missed Mt McKinley due to cloud cover and rain -- but that's to be expected more often than not during the summer. But we also saw very little wildlife due to rain and low visibility. It was a very disappointing trip. One final note, your ticket price will include a $10 park entrance fee that is charged automatically. My family already had family passes for the National Parks, so we had to wait until the end of the tour, then return to the ticket center with our passes and our ticket stubs, file a claim for a refund, and now are waiting 4-6 weeks for a refund check to be mailed to us. I will go back again, but will use the shuttle service, pack my own lunch, and save a bundle!
Trust me, it's a great ride. You are in for a treat with all the animals and scenery. This is about a 8 hour drive within the wilderness where no other vehicles are allowed. We got to see some Grisly bears with the cubs, moose- bulls and cows, caribou, fox!!, dall sheep- the reason for which the park was established. It was great to see all those animals in their natural habitat. If you want to save money, you can actually take the free park shuttle to all the places this paid tour goes and see the same scenery and wildlife there as well with a guide, who is actually the driver in both the cases. The only advantage of the paid tour is that they have a long range camera in the bus which they use to capture farthest animals and project them on a screen in the bus. I think this was totally worth it. They also provide boxed lunch, which is okay, nothing great. Only thing which could have been better was our guide. Instead of giving more details about the history of the park, animals etc. he was more worried about bathroom breaks and keeping time.