This 10-day itinerary includes 8-full days of backpacking along massive glaciers, above wild rivers, and through virgin wilderness in this most amazing and virtually unexplored area of the park. Not only does this experience include an amazing flight-seeing tour of the Susitna River valley and mighty Ruth Glacier by float plane, it also provides experienced backpackers the opportunity to truly enjoy Denali National Park in an extraordinary way. Join us for the Denali backpacking experience of a lifetime.
For two decades, Alaska Alpine Adventures has been pioneering new backpacking routes through Alaska’s spectacular national parks and wildlife refuges, and while we’ve explored some of the most wild and remote parks the state has to offer, we’ve never experienced anyplace as magnificent as Denali! Our guided backpacking trip in Denali, near the Park’s southern boundary, allows one to be completely immersed among America’s most giant mountains – truly Denali Unexplored.
Your trip begins today in Anchorage, Alaska. You’ll be staying at the Aloft Anchorage Hotel. You can arrive anytime and transfer to the hotel on their complimentary shuttle. Depending on your arrival time, the remainder of the day is yours to relax after your flight or to explore some of the city’s notable sites including the Anchorage Museum of History & Art or the city Park Strip. This afternoon, you’ll meet your guide at 5pm for an orientation and gear check, followed by a group dinner featuring gourmet pizza and local craft brews. The orientation will include a discussion of the route, an introduction to our unique style of Alaska wilderness travel, a familiarization of the principles of Leave No Trace, and a conversation about traveling safely in bear country.
This morning after a healthy breakfast at the hotel, we’ll make our way over to Lake Hood Seaplane Base, the busiest float-plane airport on earth, where we’ll board a float-plane bound for the Denali National Park and our home for the next 5 nights. This 1 hour scenic flight will take us over alpine tundra, braided rivers, and cascading waterfalls. We’ll enjoy spectacular views of Denali, the highest peak in North America as we travel up the mighty Ruth Glacier, to the entrance of the Great Gorge – the deepest trench on earth! Our skilled bush pilot will then take us down to a small lake nestled in a cleft between the Ruth and Tokositna Glaciers, where we will unload our gear on a small beach and then wave the airplane goodbye. We’ll set up camp near the lake, bask in the new-found solitude, and then take a short afternoon hike.
We’ll spend the next 6 days headed doing a 30+ mile circuit. Our route will take us through gun sight passes, over open tundra benches, down spectacular creeks, and along big Alaska Range glaciers. We’ll camp near small lakes, drink from alpine streams, and walk through country that has seen few human footsteps. We’ll bask in the majesty of the Alaska Range and scan mountain sides for black & grizzly bears as we hike through north America’s crown jewel, completely immersed in the wild. When the weather permits, views of north America’s highest mountain range will dominate our panorama and we’ll savor the incomprehensible vastness of Alaska. By the afternoon of day 9, we’ll arrive back at our final camp near the lake, and we’ll spend our last evening truly enjoying our final moments of solitude in Denali.
After a celebratory tundra breakfast and coffee, our bush pilot will arrive at the lake by early afternoon to extract us from the wilderness. Our flight path will take us down the massive Ruth Glacier, over the Tokosha Mountains, along the mighty Susitna River, and back to Anchorage by early afternoon. If you’re returning home from Anchorage this evening, please schedule home-bound flights for after 8pm.
Please note that occasionally weather conditions prevent us from flying into our basecamp location in Denali National Park. Given the schedule limitations encountered when our air service provider faces weather delays, there are few options available to fly after our scheduled time. If weather looks to be improving AND the air service can accommodate a later flight, we will wait in Anchorage as long as possible. However, If we aren’t able to fly into Denali National Park on day one, the itinerary will revert to Lake Clark National Park. Please download the detailed itinerary on this page for more information.
- All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
- Toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer
- Water treatment options
- Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
- Trekking poles
- Lodging on night 1 at the Lakefront Hotel (or similar) in Anchorage
- All floatplane flights necessary for the itinerary
- Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
- All meals from dinner on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
- Storage for your extra travel items while in the field
Alaska Factor: The Real Deal
While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip. The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary. Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.” Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.
I was just a bit apprehensive prior to the trip, going as a single, on an extended backpacking trip in Alaska wilderness but I felt very comfortable and safe from the very first hello. I enjoyed everything about this trip. I liked the welcome dinner, the B&B in Anchorage was beautiful, the flights to and out of Denali were amazing, the train was fun. And of course Denali itself was just stunningly beautiful….
I had an outstanding experience. I will use Alaska Alpine Adventures for my vacation next year.
Best trip ever! Beautiful landscape and outstanding guides! Food was special surprise!! Nick’s and Sammy’s enthusiasm and energy levels were infectious! Cannot imagine better guides and would recommend them to anyone anytime. Trip would not have been the same without them!!
I came to Alaska looking for a little challenge and adventure. This trip more than delivered a little of both. I am personally thankful for the guides on this trip; their attitudes and overall enthusiasm made this an exceptional experience. I was also extremely pleased with the care and consideration that was given to my needs as a gluten free client. I look forward to future excursions with Alaska Alpine Adventures.
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Have questions about this trip? We’ve got answers.
Denali’s 6 million-acre national park is located approximately 120 air miles North of Anchorage.
Access to Denali National Park is by small aircraft, car or train.
Absolutely, our trips are all inclusive from Anchorage.
Your guide(s) will meet you at 5pm at the Aloft Hotel in Anchorage for an orientation dinner of local pizza and craft brew. They will also do a gear check, so make sure you bring your backpack and complete kit.
The group will meet in the lobby of the hotel, and then will transfer by van to the air taxi at Lake Hood for the flight to Denali. We will be flying with Rust’s Air Service from Anchorage to the wilderness and typically are in the air by 11am.
Lake Hood is the floatplane airport located just south of downtown Anchorage. “Bush” flying is an adventure in and of itself and variable weather conditions may cause delays. We will try to keep you informed of any changes or delays as they occur. Remember to please be ready at least 45 minutes before your expected departure.
Absolutely. Denali has been called ‘The Crown Jewel’ of the park system and is home to grizzly and black bears, Dall sheep, caribou, moose, wolves, and tremendous seasonal populations of migratory birds.
Yes, there is an additional fee of $275 if you request OR end up in your own room at the hotel on night one.
For additional information, please reach out to us.