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New Off the Beaten Path Adventures

We’re always on the look out for adventures which get visitor’s off the beaten path and that can reasonably be experienced in a day or less while in Denali National Park [1] or in the South Denali – Denali State Park [2] region. So working with two of our local Alaska guide services, we’re excited to be able to showcase two new adventures which we’re sure will be among the highlights for visitors this summer.

The Denali State Park Raft & Kayak [3] adventure starts with a visit to Byer’s Lake in Denali State Park, one of my own favorite places to visit. Byer’s Lake is located in a pristine setting at the foot of the Kesugi Ridge and offers spectacular views of Mt. McKinley. Along with your guide, you’ll use sit-on-top kayaks to paddle through the tranquil waters while on the watch for resident trumpeter swans, loons, and beavers. If you haven’t ever tried a sit-on-top kayak before you shouldn’t worry as they are easy to use even for new kayakers. One of the highlights for me while at Byer’s Lake is kayaking over pools of spawning salmon – I’ve also seen signs of bears along the far shore of the lake and the local guides say they occasionally see them from a safe distance away while kayaking.

From Byer’s Lake you’ll head to a unique, Alaskan lodge & café called Mary Cary’s where you’ll have lunch while enjoying views of Denali and the Alaska Range. Then its onward to your launching ground on the Chulitna River to embark on a peaceful, scenic raft trip that takes you through the stunning Chulitna Canyon and ends 19 miles downstream in the town of Talkeetna [4]. Transportation is provided from both Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge [5] and McKinley Princess Lodge [6], or if you have your own car you can meet the guides at Byer’s Lake and they’ll bring you back to your car at the end of the day.

We’ve been looking for a guided, quality, hiking experience inside Denali National Park for years, and we’re excited to now be able to offer the Triple Lakes Hike [7], a 4-hour hike which departs from the McKinley Village [8] area south of the entrance to Denali National Park. All the guides are certified by the National Park Service, and Greg Beltz, the head guide for the guiding service, told me recently that it’s been his dream for years to be able to guide visitors through the Triple Lakes Area so he’s very excited about this summer’s new tour. This guided adventure takes you on an improved trail inside Denali National Park and begins with a gradual and consistent hill climb providing spectacular views of the Nenana River and the expansive glacially-carved Yanert Valley. The trail then descends and levels off to provide access to the three alpine lakes that give this trail its name. Beautiful views of the lakes, bounded by the elevated ridges, make for some outstanding photo opportunities. The lakes have Arctic Grayling and are also home to beavers while Moose enjoy the sheltered valley and other small mammals are abundant increasing the opportunity for wildlife viewing. Later in the summer wildflowers dot the hillsides adjacent to the trails and wild blueberries are abundant as well.

This is a great hiking option for any Denali visitor desiring to experience some solitude and you’ll see a wilderness area quite different than the area visited on the Denali Park bus tours so it’s a great complement to the Tundra Wilderness Bus Tour [9]. The hike is moderately strenuous due to the reasonably steep ascent at the onset of this hike. Transportation is provided from all of the Denali area hotels and because of the unique departure location for this tour, I’d suggest even the self-drive visitors take the tour operator up on their complimentary transportation to and from the Triple Lakes trail head.