28 Sep 2017

Denali National Park, Alaska – September 2017

On a quest to explore and learn a bit more about myself, I took advantage of an opportunity to visit Denali National Park. I had only been to Alaska once before and felt I needed to take advantage of this opportunity to see more of the state, especially while it was above freezing. I had a tough time deciding where I wanted to focus my adventure, as Alaska offers so many exciting National Parks and scenic towns. However, I felt as a single traveler, it was in my best interest to contact the professionals. I reached out to Explore Fairbanks to get the low down on my options that would allow me to experience Alaska while keeping safety in mind. Tyler, a representative at Explore Fairbanks, recommended Denali National Park. I admit I was a bit hesitant to hike on my own, but I trusted his recommendation.

I was flying into Fairbanks no matter what, so Denali made sense. It’s just a two hour drive south from Fairbanks on a well maintained highway with little traffic. It was such a scenic and serene drive that the two hours flew right by. I did some research on hotels near Denali National Park, but ultimately ended up taking Tyler’s recommendation and had him reserve me a room at Denali Bluffs. Denali Bluffs is located just across from the park entrance, so I could easily walk into the park every day.  I could also just walk around the small town if I felt the need to explore beyond the park.

Denali Bluffs is a fairly basic property that offers clean and functional rooms. Their sister property, Grand Denali, sits on a hill just above Denali Bluffs. Grand Denali is a bit more luxurious for those who want a bit more comfort. However, I must say that Denali Bluffs spoiled me and assigned me one of their brand new RiverView Premium rooms. I had the best room in the house- far corner, top floor, and gorgeous view looking out over the Nenana River Canyon and the park. The room was modernly furnished, extremely spacious, and had a mini fridge. My short stay there was comfortable and the team at The Bluffs spoiled me with a few welcome gifts. As promised, it was also a fairly short hike across the highway into the park.

The park itself is unbelieveable. I had never seen such striking scenery, though the view of majestic Mt. Denali alluded me throughout my stay. Prior to arriving, I pre-reserved a seat on the Eielson Visitor Center bus, which takes you 66 miles into the park. The current cost for this option is $34 plus a $10/person park entrance fee. If that option is not for you, you can do a variety of narrated and unnarrated tours which go to various points throughout the park. I chose the unnarrated tour, as it allows you to hop on and off the bus wherever you see fit so you can hike or explore at your own pace. It also happens to be a little less expensive. Our driver did some narration, which was just an added bonus. 66 miles is a long way in a bus and the journey takes 4 hours each way (including a few stops). So, plan accordingly. If you want to wander around on your own but don’t like long road trips, I did some self hikes from the Denali Visitor Center on the second day. There are multiple trails to choose from at varying lengths and skill levels. I happened to choose some challenging trails, which was probably not the best plan for someone who does not hike very often. Please note that if you do wander off on your own, remember to be alert for bears. The park recommends carrying bear spray, but there are other ways to practice safety, including wearing bells, clapping while walking, or engaging in louder conversations. Please listen to park officials on how to deal with wildlife encounters. It may have been humorous to see, but my loud singing and clapping worked!  I SAFELY saw some incredible wildlife, including 11 bears (from a protected distance), a fox, and a moose.

Admittedly, it would be nice to have the chance to explore more of Denali. I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance again, but I’m glad that I focused my energy on that area. I feel very blessed to be able to have had such a unique experience and I recommend a visit there during an Alaskan Escape!

***As a travel agent, I received special considerations at Denali Bluffs. The time spent in Denali National Park was done so as a member of the general public. ***

Meet me

    • My name is Janelle and I'm a luxury travel consultant with Luxe Island Escapes by Easy Escapes Travel and an avid traveler!

      I specialize in luxury island and tropical vacations, whether it be a quick get-a-way, honeymoon, or a bucket list adventure. In addition to being a Certified Tahiti Specialist®, I am also a certified specialist for Fiji, The Cook Islands, Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia, among other destinations. To learn more about me, my services, and my certifications, please visit the About page.

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