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  • Writer's pictureTracey Smith

Denali National Park East Fork Transit Bus or Tundra Wilderness Tour?

Updated: Feb 2

Denali National Park Transit Bus or Tundra Wilderness Tour? Denali National Park stands out as a truly unique and awe-inspiring natural wonder. At its heart lies Denali, the highest peak in North America, which reaches a towering 20,310 feet (about 6.19 km) above sea level. But what truly sets Denali apart is its pristine wilderness and vast expanses of untamed landscapes, where wildlife roams freely. The park's protected ecosystem offers a glimpse into the wild heart of Alaska, with only one 95-mile road that goes into a park that is six million acres (about the area of Massachusetts). Visitors to Denali are treated to the stark beauty of tundra, the serenity of its icy glaciers, and the challenge of its rugged backcountry, creating an unforgettable and unparalleled opportunity to connect with the untamed spirit of the Last Frontier.


What is the difference between the two options for touring Denali National Park: Denali National Park Transit Bus or Tundra Wilderness Tour? Both are good options for touring Denali National Park.  They both travel the same road, and both are on a bus.  I highly recommend you book far in advance to make sure you have the tour and time you want.


East Fork Park Transit Bus -The BEST Park tour option in my opinion!

Explore the park without spending $100's of dollars. The East Fork Park Service Transit buses provide an inexpensive alternative to narrated tours. This is a great option for those who want the hop-on/hop-off option, and those with backcountry hiking experience. The transit buses are hop-on/ hop-off so you can explore the backcountry of the park at your own pace and see as much or as little of the park as you desire. Note all hiking in the backcountry of the park is off trail, so experience is recommended, but not required.


Although the East Fork Transit Bus is not sold as a narrated tour, in my experience the majority of driver/guides are very knowledgeable, and you feel like you are on a narrated tour. Remember that these guides make most of their pay on gratuities so they are motivated to make this a great trip for you, besides the fact they will be on a bus with you for 6 hours, so making it a fun and interesting experience benefits all.


I recommend you take the East Fork Transit bus in and out without getting off as the shortest tour into the park is 5 hours round trip. If you want to do any hiking or exploring, I suggest you do it at the front end of the park, as there is a dozen groomed hiking trails for every skill level that you do not need to access by bus.  Everything from an easy short one mile (ow) walk to Horseshoe Lake which takes you to a beaver pond or for the more experienced hiker there is the Mt. Healy Overlook trail which is 2.7 mile (ow) increasingly steep hike out of the forest and into the alpine country, with potential views of Denali and everything in-between.


TIPS: I recommend bringing or ordering a lunch to-go as there is no food or drink service in the park, a camera, and a set of binoculars.  *If you forget yours, check with the front desk at McKinley Creekside Cabins, as we have binoculars to lend out.


The Tundra Wilderness Tour is a good option for those that want the guarantee of a narrated tour.  The buses are also equipped with a drop-down screen for viewing and you can buy the video of your trip. The company that operates this tour considers it the premier tour of Denali National Park and Preserve.


This tour offers wonderful diversity for visitors. Incredible scenery, a narrated history of the park road, and some of the best opportunities to view the park’s wildlife inhabitants await you on this tour. This tour will guide you along the spectacular road corridor, promising different experiences every day, as Denali’s wildlife moves at its own pace and according to the seasons.


Travel to the Murie Cabin near the East Fork River to experience where Adolf Murie lived while conducting his famous research inside what was then known as Mount McKinley National Park!


My final thoughts... I hope this information on the Denali National Park East Fork Transit Bus or Tundra Wilderness Tour had been helpful. We like the flexibility and cost of the East Fork transit bus, but both are excellent option for touring and seeing Denali National Park.


You must book these tours directly yourself. 

I have included links in the title and corresponding photo

that will take you directly to their booking sites.  

Touring Denali National Park will give you the best opportunity to see the great Alaskan wildlife: Grizzly bears, moose, caribou, sheep, foxes, wolves, and

lynx in their natural habitat along with the great beauty and landscape of Denali.

Don’t forget to book in advance!



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