Camping in Denali National Park in Alaska

Camping in Denali National Park in Alaska
As the home of Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the premier outdoors destinations in the far Northwest. The park is huge, however, and while there are plenty of lovely accommodations options outside the park, they are really too far from the heart of Denali to be convenient. Any visitor who is serious about exploring Denali will need to go into the park and camp out.

Riley Creek Campground

This is the principal campground in Denali, with 147 sites. There are flush toilets and running water. While the campground has sites that can accommodate a parked 40-foot RV, there are no hookups. Nearby is the Mercantile Camper Convenience Store, which has a coin-operated laundry, showers and a dump station. This site is open all year, but only one site loop remains open in the winter. Sites are rated by size, and in 2009, the rates for using them ranged between $14 for the smallest to $28 for the largest. However, all sites were free from October to April.

P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, Alaska 99755
(907) 683-2294

Savage River Campground

This is a 33-site campground, located 13 miles down the park's only paved road. It has flush toilets and running water but no other amenities. That means there isn't a dump station, so all refuse must be packed out. Regular sites were $22 per night, and group sites $40 per night in 2009. This campground is closed in the winter (October to early May).

Teklanika River Campground

This is the tailgate campground that is farthest from the camp entrance, being 29 miles down the park road. The facilities are identical to Savage River: flush toilets, running water but no dump station. All of the 55 sites are regular sites, and no group sites are available. The site requires a minimum stay of three nights to use it. In 2009, the rate was $16 per night, plus a one-time $5 reservation fee.

Camper Bus Campgrounds

There are a few campgrounds that are accessible by road, but private vehicles are prohibited so they must be reached by a park "camper bus." Even then, some hiking from the road is necessary to reach them. These are Igloo, Sanctuary and Wonder Lake campgrounds. Igloo and Sanctuary are both fairly primitive, with only chemical toilets and no running water. Both were $9 per night in 2009. Wonder Lake is more developed, with flush toilets and running water. These sites were $16 per night in 2009, plus a one-time $5 reservation fee. All of these campgrounds ban open fires, so campers will need a camp stove.


Backcountry camping requires a permit, which must be applied for at least one day before your backcountry trek is to begin. To get that permit, you will need to watch a safety video and attend a safety lecture and then select a unit of the park on the map. This is the area that you are cleared to backcountry camp in. You can hike outside that unit but are forbidden to camp outside it. In addition to staying within your unit, camp fires are prohibited, so you will need a portable camping stove. Also, you must camp at least a half-mile from the park road.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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