Choose Your Pace: Hike & Explore Denali’s Backcountry Wilderness

Explore one of Alaska’s premier parks as you hike at your pace, learn with expert educators and travel 90 miles into the heart of Denali to stay at a backcountry lodge.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22254RJ
9 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Denali National Park's wilderness area takes center stage on this backcountry hiking adventure. Explore the Park's unique subarctic ecology with local expert educators, and get to know Denali in a way that few visitors are able. Journey into the heart the Park and stay for three nights at a backcountry lodge nestled into the tundra. Pick your pace each day and set out on expert-led backcountry hikes that explore Denali's sweeping tundra and unparalleled beauty.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Choose Your Pace
Each day, choose from multiple hiking options based on your desired level of challenge and pace, ranging from 4-9 miles on varied terrain. Elevation change during hikes can range from 400' to 2000'
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Watch for grizzly bear, Dall sheep, moose, and caribou in Denali National Park.
  • Stretch your legs and minds on expert-led hikes throughout the week across alpine tundra, through boreal forests, and beside mountain lakes.
  • Spend three nights at a backcountry lodge exploring Denali’s wilderness in the shadow of the Alaska Range.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mount McKinley
by Art Davidson
Minus 148 is one of the few true classics in the literature of mountaineering. It is no simple tale of heroism and valour, like Annapurna, but rather a vexed, uneven story of doubt, failure, whim, courage, tragedy. The expedition was unbalanced, with the strong members far superior to the others. Perhaps the strongest of all was killed in an absurd accident within the first hours. The leader himself seemed to lose heart in mid-stream. Yet everything was redeemed by the magnificent accomplishment of the summit in early March, and then by the even more magnificent survival of Art, Dave Johnston, and Ray Genet.
Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
by Velma Wallis
Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine. Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community, and forgiveness "speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness, and wisdom" (Ursula K. Le Guin)
Snapshots from the Past: A Roadside History of Denali National Park
by Jane Bryant
Visitors come to Denali National Park and Preserve for many reasons - spectacular scenery, wildlife, the continent's highest peak, and the cultural experiences. This amazing book does a wonderful job of presenting snapshots of Denali's past and telling many of the stories that have shaped its history. This book included user-friendly maps of the Park's road and innumerable historic photos to highlight its content. It is arranged to follow the park road from east to west, from the park entrance to Kantishna, and is a must-read for anyone interested in delving into the Park's rich history.
Shopping for Porcupine A Life in Arctic Alaska
by Seth Kantner
Seth Kantner’s Ordinary Wolves told the story of a white boy raised in a sod igloo on the Arctic tundra. A heartbreaking vision of a vanishing world, it established Kantner as one of the nation’s most original and authentic writers. Here, he returns to the setting of his debut novel with an autobiographical account of his own life in a rapidly changing land. Beginning with his parents’ migration to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1950s and extending to his own attempts to balance hunting with writing, Kantner recalls cold nights wrapped in caribou hides, fur-clad visitors arriving on dog sleds, swimming amidst ice floes for wounded waterfowl, and his longstanding respect for the old Iñupiaq ways. Captured in words and images, these details combine to reveal a singular landscape at a pivotal moment in its history. Both an elegy and a romp, the book illuminates a world few will see as Kantner has.
Coming Into the Country
by John McPhee
Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.
Jimmy Blue Feather
by Kim Heacox
Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native, he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska. When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb’s senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides, and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation.
Boots, Bikes, and Bombers
by Karen Brewster
Boots, Bikes, and Bombers presents an intimate oral history of Ginny Hill Wood, a pioneering Alaska conservationist, and outdoorswoman. Born in Washington in 1917, Wood served as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot in World War II and flew a military surplus airplane to Alaska in 1946. Settling in Fairbanks, she went on to co-found Camp Denali, Alaska’s first wilderness eco-tourism lodge; helped start the Alaska Conservation Society, the state’s first environmental organization; and applied her love of the outdoors to her work as a backcountry guide and an advocate for trail construction and preservation. An innovative and collaborative life history, Boots, Bikes, and Bombers, incorporates the story of friendship between the author and subject. The resulting book is a valuable contribution to the history of Alaska as well as a testament to the joys of living a life full of passion and adventure.
Make Prayers to the Raven
by Richard Nelson
An ethnographic study of the customs and culture of the Koyukon Indians of Alaska focuses on their attitudes toward the environment and the use of natural resources.
Arctic Village
by Robert Marshall
This classic is an original work of literature by one of America's foremost conservationists and is an account of the people of the north, both Native and white, who give Alaska its special human flavor. First published over fifty years ago, the book is still a favorite among old-time Alaskans and, over the years, has prompted numerous readers to pack up and move to Alaska.
Wildflowers of Denali National Park
by Verna E. Pratt
This book is considered a classic plant ID guide for the Denali area and is a good "picture guide" to many of the flowering plants of central Alaska, more specifically the Denali National Park & Preserve area. It is arranged by color of the flower and then loosely by the family of plant.
Two in the Far North
by Margaret Murie
This enduring story of life, adventure, and love in Alaska was written by a woman who embraced the remote Alaskan wilderness and became one of its strongest advocates. In this moving testimonial to the preservation of the Arctic wilderness, Mardy Murie writes from her heart about growing up in Fairbanks, becoming the first woman graduate of the University of Alaska, and marrying noted biologist Olaus J. Murie. So begins her lifelong journey in Alaska and on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where along with her husband and others, they founded The Wilderness Society. Mardy's work as one of the earliest female voices for the wilderness movement earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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