A Trip To Kantishna – Denali Park’s Best Experience

KantishnaWe are often asked by visitors how to experience the best of Denali National Park. Without question, the best opportunity to see Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), observe wildlife, and experience a more exclusive, intimate perspective of Denali National Park is to make sure that a visit to Kantishna is included in your travel plans either as a day trip or a two night back-country lodging adventure. Located 92 miles deep into the Park, Kantishna is close to Wonder Lake. This lake, known for its epic reflections of Mt. Denali, is something most Denali visitors see only on postcards as they don’t get deep enough into the National Park. The rolling foothills of Kantishna with views of Mt. Denali, the historic streams that seemingly sparkle with gold, the abundant wildlife, and the premium lodging in Denali make the all day journey an adventure that will sure to be the highlight of your trip to Alaska.

How you experience a trip to Kantishna is dependent on how many days you are able to spend at Denali National Park. To really experience Denali National Park, we never recommend visitors spend less than two nights at Denali.

Kantishna Wilderness TourIf you have two nights at Denali your best option is to stay at one of the many lodges located just outside of Denali National Park and include a 13-hour day tour into Kantishna. You can choose either the Kantishna Wilderness Tour or the Denali Backcountry Adventure. Both of these tours are operated by lodges in Kantishna and provide an excellent narrated tour into Denali National Park with wildlife stops along the way as well as a visit to Eielson Visitor Center. Eielson Visitor Center is Denali’s only visitor center with views of Mt. Denali and offers short walking trails with expansive views over the alpine tundra. The tour continues on and takes you past Wonder Lake before arriving at the tour’s host Kantishna lodge – either the Kantishna Roadhouse or the Denali Backcountry Lodge. At the lodge you will enjoy lunch, have time to explore on your own or take part in several activities such as gold panning, a guided nature walk or perhaps enjoy a dog sled presentation depending on the day and lodge.

Flight from KantishnaAfter your visit to Kantishna you will return along the Denali Park Road to the Park entrance – often giving you the opportunity to see more wildlife and a different perspective on the Park’s scenic beauty. If you wish to experience flying over Denali National Park with views of Mt. Denali an excellent upgrade is to choose to fly back to the entrance from Kantishna with Kantishna Air. This flight is a jaw-dropping, inspiring experience that in combination with the bus tour into the Park will sure to be the highlight of your visit to Alaska.

Kantishna RoadhouseIf you have three or more nights at Denali, consider spending one night at the Park entrance and two nights in Kantishna at either the Denali Backcountry Lodge or the Kantishna Roadhouse. While at the park entrance, spend your day or evening at Denali’s visitor center, take a white-water raft trip or one of many other optional tours before getting a good night’s sleep. Then begin your exclusive 92 miles journey into Kantishna to one of Alaska’s premier lodging experiences deep in Denali National Park. While at the lodges all of your meals and activities are included such as guided nature hikes, mountain biking, and shuttles to Wonder Lake. This is your chance to get away from phones, the internet and the television and enjoy the serenity of a remote Alaskan lodge. An optional return by a Mt. Denali flightseeing trip from Kantishna will cap off what will sure to be a trip of a lifetime.


  1. February 27th, 2015 | 7:16 am

    The day tours range from $165 to $169 plus tax.

  2. marge and gene copley
    January 23rd, 2016 | 5:52 am

    Hi Steve;
    Almost everyone we talk to about Alaska, their most common remarks include the fact that they didn’t spend enough time in Denali Park.
    We live in Florida and will be first time visitors to Alaska. Cruises seem to ruch you through or don’t get close enough to the beauty of Alaska. We are hesitant to rent a car, or take a bus tour exclusively (did that in Hawaiian Islands). Your Denali vacation packages look wonderful; we are not limited in time want to spend as much time as we can afford in this park. We also wish to spend some time in local small towns like Sitka to get to know the natives. I don’t know how to put this all together and would welcome your imput.
    Would apprciate a package by mail at 5815 N. Durango Terrace Beverly Hills, FL 34465. We can best peruse this info and then contact you by phone or e-mail.
    Thanks for your help!
    marge and gene copley
    Beverly Hills, FL 34465

  3. January 23rd, 2016 | 11:59 am

    Good afternoon Marge,

    I’ll have Tyler one of our Reservation Agents put together a sample itinerary and put it in the mail to you. Do you mind if we also send you it by email? Our packages focus on South-central and Interior Alaska and are fully customize-able. So really, Tyler can modify the itinerary until its what you are looking for. Sitka and Southeast Alaska is beautiful as well but its a difficult location to include in pre-planned itineraries because travel is by ferry or by commercial air so we usually recommend that if you don’t want to go on a cruise to see South-east Alaska but want to include it in your plans to do so after your visit to the rest of the state. That way avoiding any issues with weather delays. But there are towns in South-central that could give you a similar experience as well such as Homer, Talkeetna (not on the ocean), and Seward. We usually recommend 2-3 nights in Denali. More if you want to go deep into Denali National Park and overnight in Kantishna. I’ll pass my reply on to Tyler (he is one of our staff members that is currently working weekends) and he’ll start working on a sample itinerary. Let Tyler or myself know if its o’k to send it to you by email as well as I get the sense from your initial posting that you may not want us to do so. Thank you, Steve

  4. Rashid Ahmed
    February 6th, 2016 | 4:29 pm

    Will it possible to send this tour plan to me? We are planning in mid Aug to early Sep 2016.

  5. February 8th, 2016 | 8:30 am

    Rashid, Probably the best approach to getting you a sample itinerary that would include a trip into Kantishna would be for you to submit a web request through here – http://my.alaskatravel.com/Planner.aspx.

  6. sally
    February 18th, 2016 | 7:05 am

    if u are on the natural history tour can you extend the tour to Kantishna or denali backcountry tour? We will be in the park I believe on Sept 13th at the Princess.

  7. February 18th, 2016 | 8:36 am

    Sally, No you can’t unfortunately. They are separate tours. The Natural History Tour is not a tour we encourage visitors to go on as it only takes you 17 miles into the park. Generally speaking those 17 miles are beautiful but are not the optimum areas to see wildlife and Denali. If you are on an itinerary that has 2 nights in Denali we would encourage you to have Princess switch out the Natural History Tour with the Tundra Wilderness Tour which goes 53 miles into the Park. I don’t think they would offer the Kantishna Wilderness Tour or the Denali Backcountry Tour as typically they don’t offer the full day trips into the park. Our suggestion is that if you do have two nights that even if Princess won’t upgrade you that you do so on your own…but I think they will if you call them and explain what you want to do. It is a shame to go all the way to Denali and not go further into the National Park.

  8. Mark
    April 12th, 2016 | 4:38 pm

    what is the primary difference between Kantishna Wilderness Tour and the Denali Backcountry Tour?

  9. April 12th, 2016 | 7:08 pm

    Mark, there is very little difference between the two. They are operated by different Kantishna Lodges and honestly they are both really good tours. DBT has done some recent upgrades at their lodge that will take effect this summer at the location you will have lunch at their lodge. Both have similar style coaches and typically have excellent drivers. Enjoy!

  10. Bob
    November 4th, 2016 | 7:46 am

    because we will be in Denali through Princess on May 18,2017 the Kantishna tour is not offered because of snow on the road. If the weather is warmer than usual and the road is clear can the tour be opened early?

  11. November 4th, 2016 | 8:16 am

    Bob, no…the operators of the tour do not open up early even with good weather. Its really more to do with the date they open their lodges in Kantishna then the condition of the road…although they are traditionally related. If you are really going to be in the Park on May 18th then you should know that the Tundra Wilderness Tour will go into the park as far as about mile 32 instead of mile 53 which is the standard turnaround point for TWT’s.

Leave a reply