Has anyone driven the Denali road to Wonder Lake in their own vehicle?


Jun 11, 2017
Well, I'm not usually lucky, but I just won a permit to do the Denali roundtrip to Wonder Lake in my own vehicle September 17th. You get one day to do the 90-mile (one way) drive along with 400 other vehicles and no buses. It's supposedly quite a cool trip. I've driven the 15 miles they allow you to drive in, but have never taken the bus or anything any further. This is the only way they allow anyone to drive all the way into the park.

I really didn't expect to win this and had kind of decided not to go to Alaska this year, as it's so darn far. I can transfer the permit to someone else, but I'm wondering if anyone here has done it and what their impressions were. Thanks in advance if anyone replies.
I have not driven my own vehicle up the road, but I have taken the bus to the end and spent a week base camping and day hiking the park from the road.

Denali is incredibly beautiful, especially at that time of year. The leaves are already starting to change color, and the tundra is gorgeous.

That being said, I'm not sure that driving up the AlCan just to drive the Denali road for a single day is worth it. How different/more beautiful it would be than just say, driving through the Yukon, I can't say. And then there's the probability that the mountain won't be out, especially at that time of year. I would want to make more of a trip than just the single day. Taking the bus is NBD. They'll pick you up and drop you anywhere you like, and they run often enough.

Any excuse is a good one to be in Alaska, IMO.

Have a good time.

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Not sure I'll go, but if I do, I would leave early and go to Tombstone Park on the way. I've always wanted to see it in the fall. It's just such a loooong drive...last time I went to AK, it took 5 days and that was hurrying along.
As Nethos said, don't make the drive up just for that. Driving the Alcan is a great trip. The Cassiar Highway is more scenic and wilder, IMHO.

I've driven to Wonder Lake twice. It's an awesome drive in to Wonder Lake, but it's a really long day. That late in September, you will probably be driving back in the dark for quite a ways. Plus, at that time of year, there's always a chance that a snow storm will shut the road down at some point anyway. Also, that late in September, the fall colors may be done for. If you're willing to go to Tombstone (a beautiful place), I would just drive the rest of the Dempster Hwy to Inuvik. THAT is a great drive.

If you ever put in again and win, just fly up. I'll drive you in on your permit. Just give me enough notice to plan my moose hunt around it.
Sounds good. There's a chance I might use it, but would be good to have a name or two if I don't.
OK, still trying to figure out whether to go or not, but you have first dibs if I don't.
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