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Where to Stay in Denali: The 19 Best Hotels & Vacation Rentals

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Denali is the highlight for many people visiting Alaska. I hear it all the time, from being the top destination people want to visit while planning to the stories they share of their favorite Alaska memories after returning home: Denali is a special, unforgettable place.

But Denali has some things going against it from a planning perspective. It’s isolated – over 200 miles from Anchorage and 100 miles from Fairbanks. There’s only one road and one railroad line to get there. And there are only a handful of hotel options and restaurants to choose from – even during the peak summer season. It can be hard to choose where to stay in Denali, especially with such limited options.

Where to Stay in Denali Hero

While growing up in Alaska, I spent a summer working in Denali and had a chance to get to know the area first-hand. I’ve been into basically all of the properties in the area due to my work, and have stayed in a fair number of them, too. I know where *I* want to stay when I visit Denali, and that’s what I’m sharing in this post. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive listing of every single place to stay in Denali; it’s my curated list based on my experience and expertise traveling in Alaska.

Read on to learn the five best accommodations in Denali – three hotels and two vacation rentals, plus a bonus property I think is fascinating if you find yourself looking for that kind of stay. By the end, you’ll know where to stay in Denali – according to an Alaskan!

In this post, I promote travel to a national park that is the traditional lands of the Tanana and Dënéndeh peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in October 2021, and was updated most recently in January 2024.

Different Areas to Stay in Denali

Before jumping into the list of properties, I wanted to start with a brief explanation of the different areas you can stay in Denali. Because the Denali area is so big, people often don’t realize that there are different areas.

  • Nenana Canyon – Located within a mile of the entrance to Denali National Park, the Nenana Canyon (or “Glitter Gulch”) is the most popular area to stay and has eight hotels and cabin properties. You can ride the Alaska Railroad to Denali and stay in this area without a car and will have no problem getting around thanks to shuttles.
  • Denali Park – Located 6-10 miles south of the Denali National Park entrance, this small community has a few hotels, private residences available for rent, a couple of tour outfitters, and a few restaurants. You’ll need a car if you want to stay in this area since only a few properties have shuttles.
  • Backcountry – Located 85-92 miles along the Denali Park Road, Kantishna is the “backcountry” community with three hotels. You can have to ride a bus (or take an air taxi) to reach these properties – so no car is needed.
  • Healy – Located 10 miles north of the Nenana Canyon, the small community of Healy has a few hotels and lots of local charm. You’ll save by staying out here but need a car to make the drive to Denali each day.

Now you’re a bit better oriented, let’s dive in; in each property I recommend, I mention where it’s located.

1. Grande Denali Lodge

I’ve been in almost every property in the Denali area after working there back in my younger days, but I’m always impressed by the Grande Denali Lodge. Situated high on the slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain, “the Grande” is the first property you’ll spot as you approach the Nenana Canyon area by train or car.

The Grande has three types of rooms, plus the main building where you can enjoy a meal or drink at the Alpenglow Restaurant. Their “standard” rooms are one king or two queen rooms, and some come with incredible views of the Nenana Canyon and surrounding countryside. But the best-kept secret of the Grande Denali Lodge is their cabins.

There are six cabins on the Grande Denali Lodge property, each with a different animal theme, and they can accommodate up to four people (one king bed and one futon couch). You’ll be away from the noise and bustle of the main hotel buildings, and you can even enjoy a protected view of the sky – ideal for aurora-viewing if you’re visiting in the late season as we were!

Best of all, the cabins are only about 10% more per night compared with normal rooms – but they do book up, so be sure to reserve one if you decide that’s where you want to stay in Denali!

From $319 per night and can be booked on Hotels.com or directly on their website.

2. Denali Bluffs Hotel

It might seem odd that I’m only recommending two properties in the Nenana Canyon area, and they’re sister properties – but that goes to show the standard that the Grande Denali Lodge and Denali Bluffs Hotel are at!

The Denali Bluffs Hotel is located just down the slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain from the Grande Denali Lodge; it’s actually hard to tell the two properties apart by glancing at them. But they are quite different: the Denali Bluffs has a number of buildings across their property with a small number of rooms in each building. It’s almost like summer camp that way – and the outdoor walkways between the buildings add to the feeling (and cut down on noise when people are passing your room!).

Their standard rooms have one king or two queens – and many have a private balcony; they also offer premium rooms in the RiverView building. These are worth the splurge for the extra space and excellent views of the Nenana River and canyon.

From $289 per night and can be booked on Hotels.com or directly on their website.

3. Denali Backcountry Lodge

If you’ve got your heart set on staying in the Denali backcountry during your trip, there’s really only one place to be: the Denali Backcountry Lodge.

There are three properties deep in the heart of Denali, in the small community of Kantishna that now falls within the boundaries of Denali National Park. But the Denali Backcountry Lodge is the best – in part because every cabin has its own private ensuite toilet. (Other properties have shared toilets and a more communal atmosphere.)

If the Denali Bluffs Hotel feels like summer camp, Denali Backcountry Lodge is summer camp. In addition to a luxurious cabin all to yourself, there are daily activities including hikes, walks, gold panning demonstrations, bonfires, and more. You can also reserve one of two barrel saunas for a relaxing session or book a massage at their spa (which hasn’t been open since 2019 but is expected to be next year).

Additionally, meals are included, and they have a bar for happy hour and an enclosed gazebo with a fire merrily crackling 24/7 that allows you to escape the mosquitoes.

From $1650 per night and can be booked directly on their website.

4. Denali Cabins

Alaska is definitely a destination for people who love the outdoors. And some people love that rustic feel even when they have to choose their accommodation. If you’re the kind of traveler who would say,  I didn’t come to Alaska to stay in a [insert cookie-cutter hotel chain here], the Denali Cabins are a great option.

The Denali Cabins complex comprises 46 delightful, well-maintained, and well-staffed private cedar cabins. Your cabin will have all the basics: it’s clean and comfortable and includes a table and chairs, dresser, tea, coffee, etc. As I mentioned above, they have that “rustic” vibe that gives you that true Denali/Alaska feeling!

Another reason to consider Denali Cabins is convenience, despite being further south from the park entrance than others listed so far. The property offers a shuttle bus that is perfect if you don’t have a car or don’t want to deal with driving to the park. There’s also a great restaurant, Prey Pub & Eatery, that serves good food – the caribou tot-chos are phenomenal.

From $269 per night and can be booked directly on their website.

5. Denali Crow’s Nest Cabins

Denali Crow’s Nest Cabins is an option I would recommend if you want a more budget-friendly option, but with a number of caveats that you should know before your stay.

Firstly, this isn’t a luxury spot. It’s good if you just need a place to sleep. But if you’re used to nicer hotels, this is not the hotel for you. It is bare bones and has the basics – beds, working outlets, a private bathroom, and a small table. Second, the cabins are on a hillside, which leads to many walks up and down a steep hill to get to the shopping and food. This is a notable concern if you’re not very active or have mobility issues.

Then again, part of the charm is the rustic nature of this place. The cabins are cozy and clean and are set into the mountainside and overlook the valley below. 

Now, on to the perks. They accept pets! Furry friends are welcome on the property and in select cabins. There is a $25.00 fee for each pet per night. Oh, and their restaurant, The Overlook, serves delicious fresh Alaskan cuisine.

From $379 per night and can be booked on Hotels.com or directly on their website.

6. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge

Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is the Alaskan version of the Caribbean resort. The lodge is designed like a village with lodges, restaurants, shops, and much more inside. This said, if you are looking for convenience, this is the place for you.

It sits at the entrance to Denali National Park and has a shuttle that runs until 7 pm. Be warned, rooms are tiny! But they are updated and clean with good Wi-Fi if you need to check your email. The hotel also has a Tour Desk, where the staff will arrange a tour of the Park according to your needs.

Needless to say, it’s great to have everything you need at the tip of your finger. However, when staying in places like this, you risk not exploring the surroundings and confining your visit to the lodge and what it offers. This isn’t something negative per se, but something to keep in mind if you’d like your accommodation to be more nature-focused or less homogenized.

From $119 per night and can be booked on Hotels.com or directly on their website.

7. McKinley Chalet Resort

For yet another more luxurious alternative, McKinley Chalet Resort sits in the heart of the Denali Canyon on the banks of the Nenana River.

You’ll notice many people stay here as part of their Holland land/cruise tour. The lodge is as you would expect in a national park. It has a great look and an outdoorsy feel to it. Regarding the rooms and amenities, they are basic but comfortable, since people don’t come here to enjoy the indoors. The property is large and spread out, but the free frequent shuttles make exploring easy. There are two full-service restaurants, but the food is very expensive.

Despite the resort sprawling over the entire hillside, not all the rooms have a very good view. The older central part of the resort doesn’t have good views, but there’s lots to do walking around and there are plenty of shops and places to eat across the highway; the nicer newer part which is downhill and closer to the river has stunning views of the landscape.

Book on Hotels.com or directly on the hotel website.

8. Denali Park Hotel

I also wanted to include the Denali Park Hotel – which is actually located 10 miles north of the park entrance in the town of Healy.

The Denali Park Hotel makes my list of the best places to stay in Denali because of its history. As I detailed in my story about the history of hotels in Denali National Park, the Denali Park Hotel is home to the last remaining relics of the storied McKinley Park Hotel, which once stood at the entrance to the park. You can see several of the old train cars from the “temporary” second hotel, as well as other building structures that have been repurposed into rooms at the Denali Park Hotel.

You’ll need a car if you plan to stay at the Denali Park Hotel, but the drive from Healy to the park entrance is beautiful.

Book on Hotels.com or directly on the hotel website.

9. Harbor House

If vacation rentals are more of your style or you’re traveling with a bigger group and don’t want a bunch of separate hotel rooms, Denali can accommodate that too! The Harbor House is located south of the Nenana Canyon so you’ll need a rental car to reach this property – but don’t let that deter you.

This large cabin sleeps up to six people with four beds – two queen beds, a twin daybed, and a twin rollaway bed –, making it ideal for a family with children. You’ll have the entire property to yourself and plenty of peace and quiet to enjoy Denali on your own terms. There’s also a gas fire pit, a BBQ grill, and a wrap-around deck where you can enjoy morning coffee and keep an eye out for moose crossing the property.

From $475/night, book on VRBO.

10. King’s Deer Lodge

For another vacation rental option, the King’s Deer Lodge is one of my favorite places to recommend – and many people have loved staying there after reading about it in my Alaska itineraries.

This huge log cabin is also perfect for groups (it sleeps up to 9 people!) and requires a rental car to reach. But you’ll have everything you need to feel like you’re really living in the wilds of Alaska at this property. There’s a king bed, two queen beds, and a double bed (with space for two more mattresses in the house on request); there’s also a semi-finished basement with three more queen beds and one twin bed – this place is huge!

You’ll be responsible for preparing feasts in the huge kitchen and dining at wooden tables – or you can head one mile up the Parks Highway to 229 Parks, one of my favorite – and the best – places to eat in Denali.

If you’re looking to imagine life in a log cabin of old but with modern amenities, the King’s Deer Lodge is the perfect option.

From $399/night, book on VRBO.

Other Places to Stay in the Denali Area

Other great places you can stay in the Denali area: Aurora Denali Lodge (L), Grizzly Bear Resort (T), Denali Park Homestead (B)

While the Denali-area hotels and vacation rentals I’ve mentioned so far are my favorites and the ones I most recommend, I’m aware that there are lots of other options (especially further from the park entrance) – including some that members of the V&V community recommend from their own trips. Here’s a quick list of those other properties, in case you need other options.

  • McKinley Creekside Cabins (South of Park Entrance) – By far one of the most beautiful properties, McKinley Creekside Cabins offers clean and comfortable cabins, a restaurant with amazing food and bagged lunches, and fabulous staff. Book directly on the hotel website.
  • Denali Hostel & Cabins (South of Park Entrance) – This property has a wonderful location in the woods on the edge of the rushing river. The price, quiet location, yummy restaurants across the road, and the opportunity to chat with fellow travelers in the shared kitchen and common area, make Denali Hostel & Cabins for a fantastic stay. Book directly on the hotel website.
  • Grizzly Bear Resort (South of Park Entrance) – This family-run property has options for all kinds of travelers. You can stay in the Cedar Hotel, one of their cabins, or other campsites if you’re more adventurous. The resort also has a general store to get your goodies. Book directly on the hotel website.
  • Denali Park Homestead (Nenana Canyon) – If comfort is your main priority, the Denali Park Homestead is your go-to option. It’s great for families or groups as it sleeps up to six people and is equipped with all the modern conveniences. Book directly on the hotel website or VRBO.
  • White Moose Lodge (Healy) – A no-frills hotel, White Moose Lodge is the representation of simplicity. There are some picnic tables and a gas grill for anyone to use when playing board games. The hotel is close to 49th State Brewery. Book directly on the hotel website or Booking.com.
  • Denali Wild Stay (Healy) – This is a cozy cabin tucked amid the birch trees that has everything one would need for a visit to Denali National Park. Travelers rave about the hot tub! And with good reason. There’s nothing like soaking up in the hot tub watching a midnight sunset in Denali. Book directly on the hotel website.
  • Aurora Denali Lodge (formerly Motel Nord Haven) (Healy) – Located about 20 minutes from Denali NP, the Aurora Denali Lodge is perfect for, well, seeing the Aurora Borealis. You can stay in one of their large, comfortable, and well-appointed suites with a convenient kitchen and a daily continental breakfast bowl. Book on Booking.com.
  • Alaskan Spruce Cabins (Healy) – A great option for families, Alaskan Spruce Cabins offers comfortable cabins. They have a large kitchen where you can prepare several meals. Best of all, they have a front porch with spectacular views. Perfect for drinking coffee in the morning! Book directly on the hotel website or Booking.com.
  • Denali Primrose B&B (Healy) – This is one of the “true” B&Bs with on-site hosts and breakfast included in Denali. It’s comfy and clean, and a really good alternative to the busy lodge options nearby. The owner, Terry, is very friendly, outgoing, and just a super sweet lady.  Book directly on the hotel website or Booking.com.

There are certainly other places to stay in Denali, but these are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most and recommend. If you have any questions about these properties or other places you might want to stay in Denali (if you want my opinion on them), let me know in the comments!


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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.

12 Comments

  • Debbie Burson

    Hi Valerie,
    I’m booking our trip to Alaska for next July! The Grande Denali Lodge and the Denali Bluffs Hotel are both not available on the dates we’re planning to be there. We are coming from Anchorage on the train, so will not have a car and want to stay in Nenana Canyon so we are close to the shuttle. What other hotels would you recommend in Nenana Canyon?

    Thanks for any help you can provide!
    Debbie Burson

    • Valerie

      Hi, Debbie! I haven’t stayed at any others in the Nenana Canyon area, but I know the McKinley Chalet is really popular and has tons of rooms, so you might try checking there?

  • Kristen Sapp

    Hi I’m planning to take the train from anchorage to Denali. You mention having to take a shuttle in but I will be there doing wildlife photography so are you able to stop on the shuttle for animal sightings or would you recommend a different option? I’ll be there July 2024. Thanks!

  • Jackie Hildebrand

    Hi Valerie,

    I am enjoying your Alaska information. I am interested in visiting all the Alaskan National Parks. Is there an Alaskan Tour Company that provides a service like this?

    Thank-you in advance for any info you can provide.

    Jackie

  • Amanda Bridge

    Is it easy to get around Denali without a car? I’m trying to DIY a trip, and I’m worried about my Denali portion because I want to go on hikes separately from any tours, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get there without a car.

    • Valerie

      Which hikes are you planning? It’s hard to make suggestions without knowing which trails you have in mind, but as most trails are within the Frontcountry of the park, you can just take a shuttle to the visitor center and set out from there.

  • Carol

    Hi Valerie,
    Thanks for all of your great information! Do you know of places to camp in a rv near Denali that you’d recommend?

    • Valerie

      Carol, hi, I don’t have any specific recommendations, but I’ve heard Riley Creek Campground near the park entrance is good!

  • Heidi

    Hi, any thoughts on earth song lodge? Late on the booking as our trip is for this July/ August…

    Also trying to see where to go that isn’t so many cruise crowds. Any recommendations?

    • Valerie

      I’ve never heard of Earth Song Lodge, so I’m no help there!

      I can’t think of any community on the road system – and even some that aren’t! – that doesn’t have cruise ships at this point.

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