Can anyone tell me about their experience on the Tundra Wilderness Tour at Denali? Was it worth the extra money and time? What is the bus like? How often/when does the bus stop? Does the guide provide commentary most of the time? Are there a bunch of buses going back and forth and lots of people around, or is it a more quiet tour?
We are hoping to take a cruise to Alaska in late May 2004. This will be our first cruise and first visit to Alaska. We're thinking of doing a cruisetour so that we can also go to Denali. We are really interested in seeing some wildlife up close. Any thoughts/comments/advice would be appreciated!
The tundra tours include a box lunch, cost about $75 each, and there are several of them thru out the day. All of the buses the tour buses and shuttle buses are large school buses , with the tour buses in nice tan and the shuttle in green. On shuttle buses you can buy tickets to various places within the park, get off and back on another . Both stop several times for wildlife viewing, both have some commentary, both go on the only road in denali. The tour buses only go to mile 53, Toklat River, while the shuttles go on to Eielson visitor center and to Wonder Lake. We saw lots of wildlife on our two days of shuttle tours including many close up.
Thanks for the info. That's interesting about the shuttle buses. i didn't realize there were two ways to go. Do you know how much it would cost to take a shuttle bus to the visitor's center? Is there anything of interest at the center?
Yes, most people don't know there are several options for touring Denali park. There are 2 tour bused- the Tundra Wilderness and Natural History. the Tundra Wilderness goes AT LEAST to mile 53 with a several more mile in IF McKinley is viewable to about mile 58-60. The Natural History is about 16 miles- not a good choice in my opinion due to it taking so long to get there and not likely to see much if any wildlife. The shuttle system has several stops of which you purchase a seat to the destination. Polychrome Pass should be the min. distance in in my opinion. The bus runs all the way to Kantishna (but be advised- it is all private property there and you will need to just return on the same bus. For more touring you need to purchase one of the lodge buses and strongly consider at least 1 overnight there). Other stops on the shuttle system is Eielson and Wonder Lake. The Shuttle to Eielson will run about $30, for more details- go to the National Park Service site under Denali park activities. The buses stop about every 1 1/2 hours. Most people return on the same buses. There is about a thirty minute + stop at each of Eielson and Wonder Lake. For clairfication- there is also the main visitor center at the entrance to the Park, they run several daily ranger led activities and there are several well marked hiking trails- map also on web site. At Eielson there is also a ranger led walk- I recall 1pm daily???? On the shuttles- YOU MUST take in all your own food and drink, none available in the park.
Thanks for all the info. That gives us a lot to think about! We are planning to stay overnight because we definitely want to be able to take some time exploring the park.
I had been looking at a Princess Cruisetour with 2 nights at Denali Wilderness Princess Lodge, which includes the Tundra Wilderness Tour (I think it's Heart of Alaska Cruisetour 5S - next May). But maybe we should consider doing the land part on our own?
If you are considering it, definately go on your own. The cruisetours are no bargain and you will see twice as much for half the cost. They are point to point to the main tourist attractions, missing all the great stuff in between.
Re: Re: Re: Any thoughts on Tundra tour at Denali?
I agree with Karen about going on your own as opposed to using the cruise/tour option. We did that, and it was great. I like the Frommers Alaska book the best, and a good book like that will give you the resources, along with the information available on web sites as well as great tips from these boards, to plan your own itinerary. I just wholeheartedly believe that we get to see more and call the shots on our own. We did want to ride the train (and we loved that), so we booked our trip from Seward to Anchorage through Alaska railroad so that we could take a boat tour (saw a lot of wildlife) in the Kenai Fjords prior to taking the evening train to Anchorage. Then we did some sightseeing in Anchorage prior to taking the train to Denali. We loved the Denali River Cabins (hotel) in the park, and there was a presentation by a guy who has dog sled teams and lots of fun activities there. If you prefer staying at the Princess lodge in Denali, Princess does sell rooms to travelers who are not on the cruise tours, but you'll need to book early. In Denali, we did the morning Tundra Wildlife Tour (the one mentioned by Karen that is longer) and went rafting in the late afternoon. The morning tours leave very early, but we had read somewhere that the wildlife is more active in the mornings, and we had some great sightings. Then we went on to Fairbanks by train and did some sightseeing there prior to flying home with a stopover in Seattle (Alaska Airlines). If you want more details, I'll be happy to help.