Please keep in mind that specific schedules are subject to small adjustments throughout the season. Always acquire the most-recent schedule upon arriving in person, either at the Denali Bus Depot or Denali Visitor Center.
Download the 2020 transit bus schedule. Schedules for the rest of the summer are yet to be finalized.
Below are the base ticket prices for non-narrated transit buses. These prices do not include the park entrance fee.
As the table above indicates, children (15 and younger) ride free on all non-narrated buses. They do still need a format ticket, however, when you are booking over the phone, online or in person at the park.
The Tek Pass
ReservationsAll transit bus, tour bus and campground reservations are handled by our bus concessionaire, Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture.
You can call them at 1-800-622-7275 (or 907 272-7275 for international or local Anchorage callers); or make bus reservations online.
Reservations for a given summer can be made as early as December 1, the year before, via the phone or online system. Ticket prices fluctuate slightly year-to-year, and longer trips are more expensive than shorter trips.
Children (15 and younger) ride for free on transit buses. Alaska's car seat laws apply to young children.
Transit Bus Explanation
All non-narrated buses, called transit buses, are designed to move people around within the park. They make regular restroom stops and wildlife-viewing stops, just like the narrated tour buses.
Unlike tour buses, however, you're not limited to staying on the bus in which you originally started. Thus, this is the type of bus you want to take if you're interested in a day hike, or just want to experience the park on your own terms rather than as part of a tour group.
If you get off your initial bus, you can flag down any other non-narrated bus going in your desired direction - i.e., farther into the park, or back towards the entrance. Re-boarding is on a seat-available basis, so you may wait anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more for a bus with ample seating. You'll recognize them at a distance, as non-narrated buses are green, whereas narrated tour buses are tan.
Trips on these non-narrated buses are informal. The drivers provide basic park and safety information, assist you in spotting wildlife along the road and answer questions, and make restroom stops - but they do not provide a formal talk or program.
Prepare for Departure
As mentioned above, non-narrated buses are green. Narrated tour buses are tan-colored, and will not stop to pick up hikers. Tickets are priced based on destination. There are over twenty non-narrated buses each day in mid-summer, all of which go to a pre-specified place on the road, where they turn around and travel back to the entrance of the park.
There are four such destinations from which to choose: Toklat River, Eielson Visitor Center, Wonder Lake and Kantishna. These stops are explained in more detail lower on this page.
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Explanation of Camper Buses
Dedicated and specially configured (the rear seats have been removed to accommodate backpacks and bicycles), camper buses are used to transport visitors to campgrounds and/or backcountry units within the park.
Destinations: Choose Your Own Adventure
Up to 25 or 30 non-narrated buses operate each day during the peak summer season in Denali. Each of these travels to one of four destinations, listed below. Buses traveling farther in the park than others will stop briefly at each of the other turnaround points - i.e., a Toklat bus turns around at Mile 53, Toklat River; while an Eielson bus makes a rest stop at Toklat River, before carrying on to Mile 66, Eielson Visitor Center.
All trip durations listed on this page are round-trip, and factor in not only driving time on the mountainous, winding Park Road, but they account for restroom stops and the average amount of time buses stop to view wildlife and wilderness.
Located at Mile 53 on the Park Road, Toklat is a popular destination because it is a shorter bus trip than the other transit options.
Interpretive displays and an array of Alaska Geographic Association publications are available in the large tent located here. If this is your final destination, you'll have a break of around 45 minutes here. If you are proceeding to points farther west, your stop here will be shorter—around 15 to 30 minutes.
Turnaround: Toklat River rest stop, Mile 53
Eielson Visitor Center
This platinum LEED certified visitor center is worthy of the 8-hour bus trip. National Park Service rangers and interactive displays provide insight and information about the park and its myriad of resources.
Turnaround: Eielson Visitor Center, Mile 66
Trip duration: 8 hours, round-trip
Service: June 1—September 12, 2019
The journey to Wonder Lake offers extraordinary views of the Alaska Range and Denali on a clear days. The road crosses mountain passes and wetland tundra on the way to beautiful Wonder Lake.
Visitors wishing to upgrade their Eielson bus tickets to Wonder Lake tickets may do so at the Eielson Visitor Center bus dispatch office on a space-available basis. (Please note: only cash is accepted for the upgrade).
Mosquitoes can be plentiful during June and July, so bring along some insect repellent or headnets.
One of the most iconic and often-photographed images of the mountain is from Reflection Pond, just beyond mile 85. The Kantishna transit bus and Kantishna Experience tour will take you past Reflection Pond. If you are on a Wonder Lake-specific bus, be prepared to walk over two miles from the Wonder Lake bus stop to reach Reflection Pond. Alternatively, ask your driver to be let off the bus before it leaves the main park road for a campground spur road, and your walk will be about a third of a mile each way.
You will have a break of around 30 to 45 minutes at Wonder Lake Campground. If you get off the bus early to walk to Reflection Pond, carefully track how long it takes you to get to the pond, so you can make sure you walk back with enough time to meet your bus as it drives up the campground spur road and hits the main park road.
Turnaround: Wonder Lake Campground, Mile 85 (south end of the lake)
Trip duration: 11 hours, round-trip
Service: June 8—September 12, 2019
Once a gold mining town, few remnants remain of its early history. A stop at the restored Fannie Quiqley house with informative wayside exhibits reminds visitors of the rugged nature of the early settlers.
An air strip and four privately-owned businesses are the primary sights at the "end of the road." Since much of the Kantishna area is private property, visitors are discouraged from hiking in the area without obtaining permission and guidance ahead of time.
Your bus will have a break of around 15—30 minutes at a rest stop in Kantishna.
Turnaround: Kantishna Air Strip, Mile 92
Trip duration: 12 hours, round-trip
Service: June 8 - September 12, 2019
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Last updated: July 24, 2020