It is no secret that Alaska is one of the last places to truly enjoy our “wild America.” It continues to draw in the dreamy adventurer who wishes to partake in our roots. The amount of wildlife still thriving there is a reminder of what life was like before civilization took over. But luckily, for those of us in the modern world, Alaska’s gems are more accessible than ever.

Denali Crown Jewel |

Getting around may surprise you

Ships, planes, and trains are the predominant means of transportation throughout the vast land. However, there is one slightly-overlooked option that you should consider: Bus. Not tour bus or motorcoach. School bus.

Denali National Park, home of the largest mountain in North America, prohibits personal cars beyond mile 30 of its 92.5-mile road. Made up of mostly dirt, the road winds in-between multiple mountain passes, each as unique as the one before it! From the seemingly flat start near the park entrance up to the colorful (and slightly treacherous) Polychrome Pass, you’ll be on the edge of your seat. The bonus of taking a bus tour is that while in that exact position, with no steering wheel in front of you, you get to be fully present. You don’t have to worry about staying on the road or yielding to other busses. All you have to do is keep your eyes out for wildlife and listen to the unique history of the park.

A different Big 5

It is a true North American safari! If you are lucky enough and the animals are active, you maybe get a chance to see the “Big 5!” Moose are likely to be spotted first while you are still driving through the trees. However, once you pass the tree-line, look up to try and spot a Dall sheep, who like to hang precariously around the rocky slopes. Look for the mostly vegetarian bears foraging along the gentle slopes with their playful cubs bouncing around. Although a single caribou’s delicate presence can be calming, seeing a herd on the tundra can be a powerful sight. The elusive wolf might surprise you and the bus driver. But know that it can just as easily disappear right back into the brush.

If the animals are not enough to keep you in awe, the mountain scenes definitely should. Hopefully, the weather cooperates and you get to spot the snow-capped peaks of the Alaska Range. The 20,310-foot peak stands up to its nickname, the crown jewel of North America, as it seems to dwarf the rest of the mountains surrounding it.

More than a mountain

Even if the shy mountain doesn’t come out behind the clouds for you, the park still has so much to offer! In more efforts to maintain the ecosystem, a third of the park is designated wilderness. These special 2 million acres have no maintained trails. Only mountains, river beds, and your senses (and correct use of map and compass) can help you navigate through the tundra. Don’t worry! If the idea of getting lost in the unforgiving backcountry doesn’t sound like your idea of a vacation, there are marked trails near the park entrance to give you just nature experience you might be looking for.

Consider a fanTAPstic trip with Travel Alliance Partners so you don’t have to deal with logistics, you just worry about being present and truly enjoying all that Alaska has to offer. See our Alaska tours here or contact us to learn more!