Visiting Denali National Park This Summer? Join A Ranger For A Discovery Hike

Heading to Denali National Park this summer? Sign up for a day-long Discovery Hike with a ranger. NPS photo.

Got your ticket punched for a visit to Denali National Park and Preserve this summer? Don't miss the opportunity to join a park ranger for a Discovery Hike into the park.

The hikes are designed as a great way for the adventurous and well-prepared to explore the heart of Denali.

These ranger-led hikes travel everywhere, so expect uneven terrain, small stream crossings, close encounters with dense vegetation and unpredictable weather. Along the way, you can engage the park with all your senses and build memories of this special kind of "walk in the park."

Signing Up

"Disco" hikes are offered daily during the summer, and are limited to 11 people. This limit exists because Discovery Hikes take place in the wilderness, where there are no trails - the limited number helps reduce human impacts on vegetation and facilitates a small-group experience.

You may sign up for a hike one to two days in advance, and you can only sign up in person at the Denali Visitor Center. There are no exceptions to this rule. For safety concerns, rangers may turn away unprepared hikers. Please read our preparation guide for more details on how to ready yourself for this specialized program.

Where you'll go

All disco hikes begin with a bus ride into the park, originating from the Wilderness Access Center. Plan on a bus ride lasting anywhere from one to four hours, to hike for three to five hours, and then a similar-length bus ride back to the park entrance. The disco bus leaves at 8 a.m. every morning.

These ranger-led adventures vary from moderate (elevation gain less than 1,000 feet) to strenuous (elevation gain more than 1,000 feet, or will involve large river crossings). They may start from just about anywhere on the Park Road, which is why the bus ride has such a wide range of duration (i.e., the closer to the park entrance your hike begins, the shorter your bus ride will be).

To get an idea of what to expect on a disco hike, check out this page on the park's website.

Discovery Hikes typically start around June 8 each summer, and last into late August or early September.

Descriptions of upcoming hikes are available in one-week increments, are are posted on the park's website regularly.

The final Discovery Hike in 2012 will take place sometime in September - specific date TBD.