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Most people visiting Denali National Park are there for a day or two and they take the National Park bus into the park take some beautiful pictures and move on to their next destination. When you are travelling to Denali National Park with dogs though this itinerary is not possible, but there is plenty to do to in and around Denali with dogs.
Dog Friendly Hotels Near Denali National Park
First, of all the question arises of where to stay. We decided on Denali Park Hotel in Healy. This pet friendly hotel is simple, clean and in a beautiful location– the views of the surrounding Alaska Range are stunning. The decor is warm and friendly with Alaska themed quilts. It’s also reasonably priced for the Denali area where hotels tend to be extremely expensive for what you get. If you are travelling with kids they will love the fact the lobby is located in an old railroad car. While there are plenty more luxury hotels closer to Denali, Denali Park Hotel offers a family and pet friendly accommodation at price that can’t be beat.
Once we settled into the hotel we got some snacks and other supplies at the Three Bears Alaska close by. Three Bears Alaska is a grocery/convenience chain located in some of the smaller towns of Alaska. It offers everything you need– nothing more and nothing less. I highly suggest Three Bears for everything from diapers to bear spray.
Best Place to Eat Near Denali
We then headed to Rose’s Cafe for some food. Rosie’s is fantastic. They serve hearty diner style food in massive portions. The bacon was the best bacon I have ever had– thick cut and meaty with very little fat. The menu isn’t fancy, but you won’t be disappointed with the exceptional quality of the food. We got take out and ate it back at the hotel.
Rules for Visiting Denali National Park with Dogs
After getting some lunch we headed to the park. There are several rules for people traveling to Denali National Park with dogs:
- Pets must be on a leash (less than 6ft. in length)
- You must clean up your pet’s poop. (there was only one poop bag station that I saw there so bring your own)
- You may not leave your dog on a tie down (although they can be kept in your RV if appropriate measures in terms of temperature and general safety are taken)
- You can walk pets on all paved surfaces including roads and parking lots.
- The park does not allow dogs on any trails other than the Roadside Trail and the Bike Path.
- You can’t bring pets on any Denali buses, but you may drive around with them in your car/RV.
What Can You Do with Dogs in Denali National Park?
The girls and I walked the dogs around the visitor’s center parking area while Rick went to talk to the ranger and get a map. At the ranger’s suggestion we decided to drive deeper into the park to enjoy the late afternoon light over the magnificent wilderness and mountains.
One thing I think many people are surprised about is that Denali National Park is actually not the best place to get a view of Mt. Denali itself. It’s important to remember this because I think searching for the mountain is almost a distraction from the abundance of beauty within the park.
That being said if the sky is clear you will get your first glimpse of Mt. Denali around mile marker 8. There is a turnout and the mountain is far off in the distance– barely visible and yet , somehow still incredibly impressive. Don’t rush here, in fact take time at as many of the overlook pull offs as you can. Stop and watch silently all around you. Enjoying the silence and the vastness is a great way to catch a glimpse of wildlife. The area is teeming with animals, but they are shy and unless you are quiet and patient you will miss them.
We continued to the Savage River Parking lot and then walked further into the park a few miles. The views are more and more amazing with each passing step– especially at dusk when the light covers the landscapes in a million shades of pink and purple followed by gold and orange as the sun sets.
The next day the more adventurous members of our family went off on their own to do a non dog friendly hike. I stayed back and took the dogs along the Roadside Trail. The dogs had a great time and like almost any hike in Denali the scenery was breathtaking.
On our way back to Anchorage the following day we made several stops in Denali State Park. Many people never look beyond visiting Denali National Park, but the truth is the state park is even better. It has many overlooks and wonderful trails. Denali State Park is truly one of the best places to go to see Mt. Denali itself and it’s much more dog friendly than the national park. If you don’t want to hike, then stop at the North and/or South Denali overlooks. You will give you a great view right from the parking lots along the Park’s highway.
If you want to hike a particularly beautiful trail is the Curry Ridge Trail from K’esugi Ken Campground. On a clear day you will get unparalleled views of Denali from the top of the trail. Although it can be muddy after a rain and there is some elevation gain the trail is not terribly difficult. Most kids and dogs will enjoy it.
For more information on visiting Alaska read my other posts:
- Top Ten Things to Do In Anchorage with Kids
- Moose-akas in Denali
- A Perfect Day in Anchorage with Kids
- Best Things To Do In Fairbanks, Alaska
- Random Thoughts on North Pole and Fairbanks, Alaska
- Review of Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks, Alaska