Denali National Park Camping: Your Different Options

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View of Denali National Park.

Is a road trip to Alaska on your bucket list? If you’re like many RVers, getting to the Last Frontier is a dream. Today, we’ll give you the best Denali National Park camping options so you can start planning your epic adventure. The magnificence of this place is simply unmatched. Let’s dive in!

Where Is Denali National Park?

Denali National Park and Preserve is six million acres of wilderness. The ecosystems have been untouched for millions of years. The landscape has only been interrupted by one road that divides the park. 

The park sits east of Highway 3, a thoroughfare that runs north-south from Anchorage on Alaska’s southern coastline to Fairbanks in the Interior. This 350+ mile highway winds along the eastern border of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The park lies slightly more than two hours south of Fairbanks and about four hours north of Anchorage.

What Is Denali National Park Known For?

The most notable feature of Denali National Park is the soaring peak of Denali itself. Denali towers 20,310 feet, making it the tallest mountain in North America. It’s so high that visitors often don’t see its peak because clouds and fog cover it.

The park is also known for its abundant wildlife. Because it’s six million acres of wilderness, much of the land is remote, untouched by human hands. Moose, elk, grizzly bears, caribou, and other animals freely roam.

Read More: See why Denali National Park is so popular with tourists!

When Is the Best Time to Visit Denali National Park?

It’s best to visit Denali National Park in the summer and take advantage of the longer daylight hours. Even though this is peak season, you won’t run into crowds like you do at Zion or Rocky Mountain. 

Less than a million people trek to this magnificent park each year. In fact, it only sees about 600,000 visitors, far fewer than the 4 to 5 million that visit Utah and Colorado’s jewels.

The summer solstice allows outdoor adventurers hours and hours of daylight. Plus, the weather is more pleasant during these months. In June and July, the average temperature is in the mid-60s.

Best Denali National Park Camping Spots

You can find tent, RV, and car camping options inside Denali National Park and Preserve. Sites generally cost $19 to $40 a night but are free in the winter, from late September to early May. 

Riley Creek, Savage River, and Teklanika River are open to RVs, while the other three national park campgrounds are only open to tents. It’s important to mention that no campground in Denali can accommodate an RV over 40 feet long. If you have a big rig, you must stay outside the park.

Denali National Park camping offers no hookups. Again, you’ll need to stay outside the park for such amenities. All six national park campgrounds have toilets and a recycling collection. And all have potable water except Igloo Creek and Sanctuary River. But let’s explore each campground.

An RV parked on the side of the road in Denali National Park.

1. Riley Creek Campground

Riley Creek Campground is just off Highway 3 after the park entrance, making it easily accessible for RVs. It can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long. It has 142 sites, potable water, a dump station, food storage lockers, laundry facilities, ice and firewood for sale, and hot showers. 

However, most of these amenities are only available seasonally. Riley Creek Campground is convenient to the Murie Science and Learning Center, the Denali Visitor Center, and the Denali Bus Depot.

2. Savage River Campground

Savage River Campground is only open during the summer. Located at Mile 13 on Denali Park Road, this campground offers 32 sites, potable water, food storage lockers, and trash/recycling collection. 

You can bring RVs up to 40 feet. Guests can access the free Savage River Shuttle to transport them to and from the park entrance. It’s worth mentioning that it often rains in the summer, and the mosquitoes are a nuisance from early June through early August.

This is particularly true at this campground, which sits close to the Savage River.

A dog by savage river during a camping trip in denali national park.

3. Teklanika River Campground

Teklanika River Campground is farther down the main park road. It’s approximately 16 miles from the Savage River Campground. Campers must stay at least three nights here and use the bus transportation system to get around the park.

Vehicles must remain at the campsite. It has 53 sites, some of which can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long. Potable water, food storage lockers, and trash/recycling collection are also available. Like Savage River, Teklanika River Campground is only open during the summer.

4. Sanctuary River Campground

As we get into the last three Denali National Park camping options, these only allow tent campers. Sanctuary River Campground is heavily wooded and only has seven tent sites, making it one of the smallest camping locations in the park. 

It has no potable water, and fires are prohibited. It’s located at mile 23 on Denali Park Road, about 6.5 miles before the Teklanika River Campground. Reservations aren’t permitted, so tent campers must register upon arriving at the park at the Riley Creek Mercantile or Denali Bus Depot.

5. Igloo Creek Campground

Another tent-only campground is Igloo Creek Campground, located at mile 35 on Denali Park Road. It’s about five miles past Teklanika River Campground on the other side of the river. 

Like Sanctuary River, this campground has only seven sites and is accessible only by camper bus. It has no potable water, and fires are prohibited. For 2023, the Igloo Creek Campground is closed.

6. Wonder Lake Campground

The last option for Denali National Park camping is Wonder Lake Campground. This campground is deeply situated in the park at mile 85 on Denali Park Road. It’s the closest to Denali. 

It has 28 tent-only sites, and campers can access potable water, food storage lockers, and trash/recycling collection. Fires are also prohibited here. Wonder Lake tends to be cooler and wetter than the park entrance, and the mosquitos are terrible in the summer. Bring a headnet!

Pro Tip: Before you crack open a cold beer after a day of exploring a national park, make sure you know if alcohol is allowed!

An RV parked at a campground in denali national park.

7. Denali RV Park and Motel

The only campground not located inside the park on our list is Denali RV Park and Motel. We put this on our list of best Denali National Park camping locations because it offers hookups that some travelers need. 

It’s just minutes from the park entrance at the base of Mount Healy. It has 67 full hookup sites and eight pull-through full hookup sites. You can also access laundry facilities, bathhouses, a gift shop, a dog walk area, and hiking trails onsite.

Is Wilderness Camping Permitted in Denali National Park?

Wilderness camping is allowed year-round in Denali National Park and Preserve. Although all campgrounds except Riley Creek close in September, wilderness camping remains an option for backpackers. 

But you must get a free backcountry permit at the visitor center. Wilderness camping offers terrific opportunities to view wildlife and the beautiful landscape of Denali National Park. Just remember to pack out everything you pack in.

Enjoy Denali National Park Camping the Next Time You Visit the Last Frontier

Although the park has no hookups, it’s worth staying a few days if you can manage. Getting into the heart of Denali National Park is an epic adventure. Whether you visit in the summer or winter, you won’t be short on outdoor activities. 

Many people enjoy hiking, cycling, fishing, mushing, snowmobiling, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. And you can’t capture the magnificence of the terrain except in person.

Now you just have to decide which Denali National Park camping option is best for you!

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