Denali Park: To the End of the Road and Back
When I was planning my August vacation in Alaska, taking the Kantishna Experience bus tour in Denali seemed like a must! I loved the Tundra Wilderness tour I took several years ago but that was only 30 or so miles into the park (some of the road hadn’t thawed yet).
The Kantishna Experience goes to the end of the road, 92 miles from the Park Entrance through true Alaskan wilderness to the old gold mining town of, you’ve probably guessed it, Kantishna. The fact that it’s a 12 hour trip just seemed to make it better. All that time to take in the gorgeous scenery and hopefully spot wild animals.
Fast forward to the morning of the tour, I’d just spent the last three days driving long distances and I was a bit tired of being in a moving vehicle. It was gray and drizzling rain and we seemed to have quite the mix of personalities on the sold out tour.
Still, even in the grey bleakness the scenery was amazing. We spotted several active grizzlies visible to the naked eye, caribou on the ridge and lots of smaller creatures.
There were several stretches where the road carved into the hill was only wide enough for one bus, and of course that’s when we would meet others coming the opposite direction!
Still, by the time we reached the Eilson Visitor Center (which boasts the only real toilets & water fountains within the park) at mile marker 66 I was back to being thrilled with the bus tour.
Wonder Lake was a wonder (especially when we visited the old homestead of some folks called Anderson) but Kantishna was a bit of let down.
Don’t really know what I expected. Kantishna is where some of the original and privately owned roadhouses and hunting lodges still exist, so you go from the wilderness suddenly into a country road with cabins on either side.
The end of the road is also a little anti-climactic. There it is!
The whole area is in a valley, which makes sense, but other than an old cabin or two has nothing that really feels historic or beautiful.
Fortunately I had the 92 miles (4-5 hours) back to the park entrance to make up for it. Two of the highlights were caribou on the road.
One who nonchalantly passed us, the other who dallied in front for a mile or two, stopping to pose for pictures before finally leaving the road.
It was definitely a good experience, but not for those who grow stiff from sitting long periods or time or would be affected by 12 hours of bumping along the dirt road. I would do it once, but not again! If you’re a wildlife enthusiast or photographer you can definitely get some great pictures and experiences.
The tour isn’t cheap, $165 in 2015 and you should book far in advance to ensure there is space on your desired dates.
More from this trip:
Suite Life at Sheraton Anchorage
Pancakes at Night & Other Fun at the Holiday Inn Express Fairbanks
I missed the Salmon and the Man in the Bear Suit…
The Place Where You Go to Listen
Great Alaska Outhouse Experience
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