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Denali - Shuttle Bus or Tour

Denali - Shuttle Bus or Tour

Old Aug 12, 12, 5:00 pm
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Denali - Shuttle Bus or Tour

There will be four of us - kids are 13 and 8. Any thoughts on the 6-8 hour shuttle buses - no guide, on and off as desired, no food - for $70 vs. the 6-7 hour Tour - guide, stay with the bus, lunch - for over $300?

The price difference is big, but a good tour guide can make a difference, especially keeping the attention and interest of kids.

We do prefer to travel on our own, renting a car and exploring, so packaged tours typically aren't for us.

Last edited by CPRich; Aug 12, 12 at 5:42 pm
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Old Aug 12, 12, 7:56 pm
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When I was at Denali this past May we did the Shuttle Bus since it came with our tour package (Dad won't do the Traveling on our own thing but I prefer that.)

I will say one thing if you see any Wildlife they will stop so you can see it. Though the idea of getting on and off on demand is pretty desirable.

So it is a toss up. With that being said the lunch is just your averaged boxed lunch.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:12 pm
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Originally Posted by CPRich View Post
There will be four of us - kids are 13 and 8. Any thoughts on the 6-8 hour shuttle buses - no guide, on and off as desired, no food - for $70 vs. the 6-7 hour Tour - guide, stay with the bus, lunch - for over $300?

The price difference is big, but a good tour guide can make a difference, especially keeping the attention and interest of kids.

We do prefer to travel on our own, renting a car and exploring, so packaged tours typically aren't for us.
I happen to drive those busses in Denali and for my money I'd definitely take a green VTS shuttle bus over the tour. Yes, there's definitely something to be said for the knowledge and ability of a good tour guide but for a difference of over $200.00? An Alaskan vacation is expensive enough as it is. Buy the Denali Road Guide and read much of the same information your driver would give you for about $10.00.

I would recommend the shuttle bus (which you can get on and off of as opposed to a tour bus which you can't) and use the savings for something like a river raft trip or a couple nice meals out. The box lunch served on the tour bus is nothing special (A serving of reindeer sausage, a packet of Tillamook cheese, a roll, a bag of trail mix, a bag of baby carrots, a Nutri-Grain bar, a piece of fruit and a bottle of water) ~ You could do much better buying everyone a Foot Long at the local Subway sandwich shop out on the highway.

However you go - Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 14, 12, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by Seat 2A View Post
A serving of reindeer sausage...
And usually that's only 2% reindeer or something...
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Old Aug 14, 12, 2:13 pm
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Originally Posted by CPRich View Post
There will be four of us - kids are 13 and 8. Any thoughts on the 6-8 hour shuttle buses - no guide, on and off as desired, no food - for $70 vs. the 6-7 hour Tour - guide, stay with the bus, lunch - for over $300?

The price difference is big, but a good tour guide can make a difference, especially keeping the attention and interest of kids.

We do prefer to travel on our own, renting a car and exploring, so packaged tours typically aren't for us.
I can't agree more with Seat 2A. Though there are differences in shuttle bus drive commentaries, it is rare that the shuttle drivers give very little if any commentary. They all love the park and drive there multiple times a week. They love to share their passion about the park. Having been on lots of shuttle buses in Denali over the years, I have to honestly say that Seat 2A gives one of the best, if not the best, commentaries I have ever had on a shuttle bus. If you happen to get the rare shuttle bus driver who doesn't give much commentary, hop off at the first rest stop and wait for another shuttle bus with room on it. But I really don't think it will be an issue.

Be sure that the kids each have their own binoculars. Also be sure they each have their own camera, if only an inexpensive one. Also be sure you bring triple the batteries that you think you will need for any entertainment items you bring.

Bring plenty of food and drink too. You can refill water bottles at Eielson Visitor Center if you take the shuttle bus.

I would book the shuttle bus to Eielson and decide the day of the trip how far you will go. The area between where the Tundra Wilderness Tour turns around and Eielson is prime bear habitat so your chances of seeing bears increase if you take the shuttle to Eielson.

One huge advantage to the shuttle bus is that you can get off the bus if/when the kids want a break or if one of them acts up, etc. Then walk along the road for a while and catch another bus as it comes along.

Also, when you first get to the park be sure to go to the visitor center and pick up Junior Ranger backpacks for the kids. This will help to keep them occupied.
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Old Aug 15, 12, 2:52 pm
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I will 3rd what they said. I just spent 4 days inside the park (3 on the shuttle buses) and the most wildlife we saw was between the entrance and teklanika (1st rest stop), sable pass, and then from just before toklat to eielson. We also heard stories of Moose and Wolves out near Wonder Lake, however we only saw birds and arctic ground squirrels between Eielson and Wonder Lake.
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Old Aug 20, 12, 9:17 pm
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Thanks all. We did just return from 7 hours out in the park, on and off the shuttle. We saw four of the big five - grizzly bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep. No wolves, though I'm told there are only about 70 in the 6 million acres of Denali.

Our various drivers were both talkative and knowledgeable. And after taking a few hikes out into the landscape, I can't imagine being cooped up the entire time without being able to move about as desired.

And for future reference, though I didn't see the above post until now, we did pick up the Junior Ranger kit. My 8-yr old had a great time making plaster molds of the wolf print and was out and about taking pH samples and temperature readings (about 6 and 34 degrees, fyi) as well as sketching animals, identifying tundra plants, etc. A great idea for kids.
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