Denali Unexplored
Basecamp Hiking in Denali National Park

Denali Unexplored - Basecamp Hiking in Denali National Park

Denali is America’s quintessential National Park.  With over 6 million wild acres, the tallest peak in North America, and countless rivers and glaciers, Denali National Park lives up to this title as America’s crown jewel. While most visitors experience the park via its main northern corridor, the Denali Park Road, the south side of the park sees little annual visitation and remains completely road-less and virtually unexplored.

Accessing the park by bush plane from Talkeetna, Alaska, your first treat will be a phenomenal floatplane flight up the Ruth glacier near Mt. McKinley.  You’ll then spend 4-days and 3-nights camping and hiking Denali’s wild side from the comfort of a wilderness basecamp situated on the edge of the mighty Ruth Glacier, and only 17 miles from the summit of North America's highest peak.  Our wilderness camp, near the shore of a small glacial lake, puts you right in the epicenter of the Alaska Range and in a place where you will feel humbled by the scale and majesty of Denali National Park.

With a light daypack, you’ll spend your days hiking miles of vast tundra and exploring the seemingly endless glaciers; returning to camp each evening for a delicious lakeside feast under the midnight sun. See Denali in a way that few ever have, and experience Denali Unexplored!

*While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will.  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.”  Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

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Trip Details

DURATION 4 days
LENGTH 20+ miles
INTENSITY Level 2
SEASON Summer
BEGINS IN Anchorage
ENDS IN Anchorage
AIRPORT Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
WILDLIFE/
SCENERY
Ruth Glacier, Mt. Mckinley, tundra, glacier
Price$1,999
Youth Price$1,999
Great ForFamilies Couples Individuals

Denali’s most authentic 3-night experience!  Combine genuine remote Alaska solitude, a visit to the quaint town of Talkeetna, an amazing round trip scenic floatplane flight into Denali National Park, and a 3-hour train ride, with the greatest basecamp hiking trip in Alaska, and immerse yourself in the real Denali National Park!

What's Included

  • All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
  • Large, backpack-style drybag for transporting and storing personal gear while on trip
  • Trekking poles
  • Ground Transportation to Talkeetna on Day 1
  • Roundtrip scenic bush flights from Talkeenta to Denali National Park
  • Scenic train ride from Talkeetna to Anchorage
  • Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 guest to guide ratio
  • All meals from lunch on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
  • Storage for your extra travel items while in the field
Day
1

This morning an Alaska Alpine Adventures representative will pick you up in Anchorage by 8:15.  You’ll start the day with an orientation and gear check at our Anchorage facility before loading into our van for the 2.5 hour drive to Talkeetna, Alaska.  By late morning, we’ll then make our way to K2 Aviation to gear up for our scenic flight into the wilderness. We’ll board a floatplane bound for the Denali National Park and our home for the next 3 nights.  This 1/2 hour scenic flight will take us over alpine tundra, braided rivers, and cascading waterfalls.  Weather permitting, we'll enjoy spectacular views of Mt. McKinley, 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 early evening hike before dinner.  Lunch & dinner Included.  Distance: 1.5 miles, Elevation Gain: 500'

Day
2

The options are staggering!  With almost unlimited daylight, we’ll head for the tundra hills above camp, destined for magnificent views of the Backside Glacier, Ruth Glacier, and if weather permits, “The Great One,” 20,320 foot Mount McKinley. On today’s hike, you’ll learn in practice the skills necessary to hike off-trail in the Alaska wilderness – including reading a topographic map, choosing the best route, using trekking poles, and traveling efficiently.  After a full day of exploration, we’ll tally our wildlife and mountain peak sightings as we enjoy a filling meal in the wilderness.  All meals included.  Distance: 6-10 miles,  Elevation Gain: 1500-2500’

Day
3

After a hearty breakfast, we’ll grab our day-packs and again head out in search of adventure in Denali.  Today, we’ll make our way up onto the Backside Glacier.  In all likelihood, this will be your first time hiking on a glacier, and you’ll quickly understand why this area draws mountaineers from all over the world.  While not at all technical, your trek on the ice will give you the chance to learn firsthand the glacial features of this frozen river of ice, the valley that bears the scars of thousands of years of glacial activity, and the more recent visual indications of climate change on the Alaska landscape.  All meals Included.  Distance: 8.0 miles, Elevation Gain: 2000'

Day
4

Another breakfast and hot drink will fuel us for our last few hours in the wilderness.  After breaking camp, and moving our kit to the lakeshore, we'll await our ride back to civilization.  As the float plane descends on the Lake, we’ll depart knowing that this amazing place has made a lasting impact on our souls.  We’ll return to Talkeetna by early afternoon, enjoy a short walk around town,  and by 4:30pm will be boarding the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star train bound for Anchorage.  This 3-hour trip will take us through the beautiful Matanuska-Susitna Valley, through southcentral Alaska's boreal forests and small farms & homesteads, and finally to Anchorage by 8pm.  Options to stay in Talkeetna or Anchorage for an extra night are available.  If departing Anchorage this evening, please book your return flights for no earlier than 10:00PM.  Breakfast & lunch included.  Distance: 1.5 miles, Elevation Gain: 500'

CONTINGENCY ITINERARY

Please note that occasionally weather conditions prevent us from flying into our basecamp location in Denali National Park.  Our itinerary plan allows for a full 30 hours of wait time in Talkeetna.  It's possible that the group will have to spend the night in Talkeetna on night one.   In this case we'll spend the first night camping at a local campground.  If we aren't able to fly into the park by 2:30pm the next day (day 2), we will initiate our contingency itinerary.  Please download the Detailed Trip Itinerary for details.

*While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will.  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.”  Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

 

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If you can't tell from the rest of my comments, this was an outstanding trip, and we hope to come back to AK and AAA in the next few years. Thanks for everything!

Sarah Goldman
Trip Highlights:
  • See the summit of Mt. McKinley from a mere 17 miles away.
  • Explore tundra-carpeted valleys while scanning the hillsides for bears.
  • Gaze in awe at the magnificent Ruth glacier.


Need more details? Download a detailed itinerary of this trip

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