Tour buses offer a guided introduction to the park. Advance reservations are required for the tour buses and are recommended for the park shuttles. Reservations for the following season become available on December 1, so if you have only a small window to see Denali, plan far ahead. If you're not organized enough to think six months or more out, you can usually get on the bus of your choice with less than a week's notice—and you can almost always get on a shuttle bus within a day or two—but try not to count on that. Work as far ahead as you can to avoid disappointment.
Rides through the park include a 4½- to 5-hour Natural History Tour ($81), a 7- to 8-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour ($131), and an 11- to 12-hour Kantishna Experience ($175). These prices include the park entrance fee, and kids are half price. Trips are fully narrated by the driver-guides and include a snack or box lunch and beverages. Although the Natural History Tour lasts five hours, it goes only 17 miles
into the park (2 miles beyond the private-vehicle turnaround), emphasizing Denali's human and natural history. Do not take this tour if you want the best wildlife—or Denali–viewing opportunities. You might see a moose or two but not much else. The Tundra Wilderness Tour is a great way to go for a fun, thorough introduction to the park, but it leaves you wanting more. The Kantishna Experience travels the entire length of the road, features an interpretive guide and ranger, lunch, and some walking. For an experience that combines bus travel and a short guided hike, take the Windows into Wilderness Tour ($112). The trip goes out to the Teklanika but, at Mile 12, the Mountain Vista Trailhead, you'll take a 90-minute hike along an easy ¾-mile trail, led by a science educator and an Athabascan cultural interpreter. Note, though, that none of the tours allows you to leave the bus without the group or to travel independently through the park.