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  • Writer's pictureTracey Smith

Savage River Hiking Area-Denali National Park, Alaska

Updated: Jan 20

Savage River Hiking Area-Denali National Park, Alaska. From our friends at the National Park Service with added commentary.


Denali National Park sign.
Denali National Park sign

The Savage River Hiking area is located around Miles 13-15 on Denali Park Road. Although you can drive in your own vehicle, we highly recommend you can board the free bus, called the Savage River Shuttle, at any entrance area facility as parking is extremely limited.  Printer Friendly Trail Map


  1. The 2-mile-long Savage River Loop is a mellow walk along the river. The surface is uneven and rugged in areas, but there is no significant elevation change.

  2. The more strenuous Savage Alpine Trail runs more than four miles and connects the Savage River area with Savage River Campground. Use the Savage River Shuttle to travel back to your starting point if you need to pick up a car or use it to return to the park entrance if you have no vehicle; or, you can walk about two miles along the park road.


Hours and Seasons - This part of the park is technically open 24 hours a day during the summer, when the free Savage River Shuttle is operating (mid-May to mid-September), riding the shuttle is the most reliable way to access the area and to not worry about finding parking.


  1. By bus: Summer - The Savage River Shuttle is a free bus ride out to this area. Bus service is roughly mid-May to mid-September and is highly recommended, as the parking lot fills up rapidly and will be full nearly every day in summer (schedule listed below) departing from the Denali Visitor Center (or several other buildings near the park entrance). The bus makes several stops near the park entrance so it takes about an hour for the bus to travel to and from the park entrance, so that means a minimum of 2 hours. Ideally, you'll disembark from the bus to explore Savage River and catch the bus back later in the day.

  2. Private vehicles can drive as far as Mile 15 of the Denali Park Road, to Savage River, but parking is extremely limited, so the Savage River bus is highly recommended if you want to get out an hike! The speed limit is 35 mph, so it'll take you around half an hour to drive to Savage. There is no parking for RVs at Savage River.

  3. By foot or bike: Year-round-You're welcome to bike or hike out to this part of the park.  If starting from Park Headquarters the journey is 12 miles one-way. Be aware this is a road with no bike lanes, so bikers will be constantly passed by traffic.


Know Before You Go - We recommend taking the savage river shuttle if you want to hike in the area. The shuttle traveling to Savage River might be green or tan colored and will have a placard in the front window reading "Savage River Shuttle."     


Savage River Shuttle Schedule: May 15 to May 25 — operates from 8:20 am to 8:10 pm. May 26 to September 6 — operates from 6:20 am to 10:10 pm. September 7 to September 14 — operates from 6:20 am to 8:10 pm.


  • Savage River can be very windy, so bring layers. It is also several hundred feet higher in elevation than the park entrance, so it can be a bit chillier than conditions at the visitor center.

  • There is no cell service in the area.

  • There is no water or food service in the area.


Savage River Alpine Trail, Denali Alaska
People walking the Savage River Alpine Trail, Denali National Park

4 Comments


Nicholson Percy
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Jun 10

A green or tan shuttle heading to Savage River will be easily identifiable by its front window placard doodle jump that reads "Savage River Shuttle."


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