A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Fairbanks: 45°/75°/Partly sunny
Southcentral towns outside Anchorage often have a wide selection of lodging to accommodate visitors who come to town for a weekend's relaxation, to fish or to show off the state to relatives.
Western Alaska's grand expanse of terrain, water and wildlife attracts many visitors with an interest in the outdoors. Its larger cities -- Kodiak, Bethel, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and Nome -- put up quite a few visitors and governmental and commercial guests for the night.
Hotels in Barrow and Kotzebue, in Northern Alaska, cater to tour groups, which arrive by plane from Anchorage or Fairbanks.
Interior Alaska has a broad range of accommodations, from rustic cabins to hotel suites with kitchens.
Park has more than 200 campsites for tents, vehicles
Denali National Park's 220 campsites may be the most popular in a state full of campgrounds.
Two of the park's five campgrounds allow only tents. Three accept vehicles and tents, and one accepts only vehicles with hard-sided campers/trailers. During most of the summer season (May to September), nearly all of them fill up every night. The campgrounds and their features are listed below.
Backcountry camping is also allowed, at least a quarter-mile away from roads and neighbors.
Wildlife gets a high priority at Denali, and that may influence the availability of campgrounds. As has since 2001, the presence of wolves has lead the Park Service to again restrict tent camping in some areas.
Official opening day at the campgrounds nearest the entrance is May 24, when fees will be charged for use. The big campground at the entrance, Riley Creek, is open all year.
Astute campers make reservations by phone as soon as they know when they'll be at Denali. Reservations can be made in person at the Denali visitor center also, but it may take a day or two before a spot opens up.
If your last-minute attempt at making a reservation fails, there are other campgrounds in the area. The Healy Lions club traditionally publishes a list of campgrounds, motels, restaurants and other travel services in the Healy-Denali area.
Phone numbers for campground and shuttle reservations:
The three campgrounds that accept RVs are Riley Creek, Savage River and Teklanika River. Drivers who go to Tek River, which is beyond the cutoff point for most public traffic, get only the one trip in and out on the park road and are required to sign up for at least three nights. The Riley Creek and Savage River campgrounds allow drivers to come and go as they wish.
The presence of wolves and bears has led the Park Service to ban tent camping in the Teklanika and Igloo Creek campgrounds, which are five miles apart. At Teklanika, camping is permitted only in hard-sided vehicles. Igloo is just plain closed.
The green shuttle buses, whose routes begin at the park's visitors center, stop at all open campgrounds except Riley Creek. A free shuttle bus makes a circuit connecting Riley Creek with the visitors center, park headquarters and the commercial area outside the park.
The campgrounds are:
Riley Creek campground, Mile 0.2 of the park road, has 100 tent and vehicle spaces and flush toilets. It's the busiest campground, but closest to dining and attractions outside the park. It's open year-round, but it's full of snow in the winter and the water is turned off. The summer fee is $18 a night for people who arrive with vehicles but $12 for those who want a primitive site and don't have a vehicle.
New in 2002 will be the Riley Creek Mercantile, which replaces a store deeper into the park. This store, which will sell showers, will be adjacent to the campground. The community post office, which had been adjacent to the just-removed Denali Park Hotel, has been moved to the Riley Creek area as well.
Morino campground, Mile 1.9, traditionally a primitive option for campers who arrive without a vehicle, is now closed as the Park Service puts the land to a different use.
Savage River campground, Mile 12.8, has 33 tent and vehicle spaces and flush toilets. A short walk from the campground, cloistered in a stand of spruce trees, takes hikers to the river, which is braided at this point and visited by caribou. Remember your mosquito dope. The campground is open from mid-May to mid-September, depending first on how soon summer comes and then on how soon winter comes. The fee is $18 a night.
Savage River Campground also has 3 group sites, which go for $40 a night.
Sanctuary River campground, Mile 22, has 7 tent spaces and chemical toilets. It's open from mid-May to mid-September, depending first on how soon summer comes and then on how soon winter comes. No vehicles are allowed. Food is stored in lockers, no water is available (purify your own), and open fires are not allowed. The fee is $9 a night.
Teklanika River, Mile 29, has 53 vehicle spaces, running water and flush toilets. Caribou sometimes wander along the rocky river, and so do grizzly bears. Camping is limited to people with hard-sided vehicles and trailers. A mile up the road are a viewing area and then a bridge over the Teklanika. The fee is $16 a night.
Igloo Creek campground, Mile 34, has 7 tent spaces and chemical toilets, but it is closed again in 2003 because critters have established a breeding area nearby.
Wonder Lake, near Mile 85, has 28 tent spaces and flush toilets. To the south are the magnificent trio of mountains -- Foraker, Hunter and McKinley -- and to the north are Wonder Lake and Kantishna. With you in the middle are mosquitos, but you can escape by climbing some hills, where biting insects are less common. The campground opens later in the summer than the rest (around June 10) and may close earlier if weather makes travel dangerous. The fee is $16 a night.
Check-in is at the main visitors center, Mile 0.5 of the park road.
Denali has a $5 entrance fee, or $10 per family. It is added to your bill when you make a reservation. A $4 reservation fee also will be added to your first night's camping fee.
A few campsites are kept open for walk-ins, so reservationless campers should show up at the park's visitors center at 7 a.m. to grab what's available. Shuttle bus seats may also be gotten; again, the good times go quickly.
If you need to break a campground reservation, do it by 6 p.m. to avoid the full night's charge; the deadline for canceling bus reservations is two hours before the departure. A fee of $6 will be charged for changing or canceling a campsite reservation or bus ticket, except for the free tickets given to children.