ATV Riding in Alaska – FAQs
Are the ATV trips guided? How will I know where to go?
All Denali ATV trips are guided by professional, knowledgeable guides. There is always a front guide, leading the tour group, and a back guide. If the tour group is large enough, or if it is a dusty day, a middle guide will be available as well.
I have never been on an ATV before. Will I be able to do this?
Don’t worry; you’ll fit right in with most other participants! Our experienced and patient guides will happily facilitate your experience to make you as comfortable as possible. You will also complete a short practice session prior to the main tour. No experience is necessary to take the single ATVs. There is an obstacle course that mimics some of the trail conditions that you will go through before you get on the trails. If you are feeling uncomfortable after the obstacle course, alert the guides so that they can switch you to another unit. The Side by Side ATVs are very easy to drive because they drive just like a car!
What happens if I can’t pass the safety course or if I don’t feel comfortable on the ATV after going through the safety course?
Guests that fail the demonstration may be switched to another unit, may be placed in a guide unit, or may choose to not continue.
How many people go in a tour group?
We require 2 units to be booked for a tour to depart. Our tours are capped around 12 units. Since units can fit 1-6 people, the number of actual people on a tour may vary.
Will I be able to stop, and take pictures?
There are designated stopping points during each tour, at scenic points and overlooks. If the tour sees moose or other animals, the tour can stop to take pictures. At any point during your tour, if you need to stop, simply alert a guide.
Are there restrooms at the Launch?
Port-a-potties are located at the Denali ATV Launch site.
Are there restrooms on the trail?
No restroom facilities on trail, just mother nature!
What if I need a restroom stop while the tour is going?
Alert the nearest guide with hand signals and they will direct you to a good area.
Should I tip my guide? How much?
It is customary to tip your guides about 10% if they did a good job and you had a great time on this ATV Denali Trip. Tips can be made on site in cash or even in the Tour Office after the tour by cash or credit card.
Do your tours go into Denali National Park? Can we take ATVs into Denali National Park?
It is illegal to ATV in the national park. Our trails are surrounded on 3 sides by the park. You will get a park experience – same mountains, same animals, same taiga and tundra! ATVs make it possible to see more and to get to places that would take hours to hike.
Do any of your tours go to The Magic/Stampede bus? Can you refer me to anyone who will take me out to the bus?
No, our tours do not travel on Stampede Trail. Going to the bus is extremely dangerous in the spring and summer due to all the melting, increased mountain runoff, and monsoon season. Many people have tried to hike to the bus each summer; most do not make it past the rivers, many get lost and injured, and several have died in their efforts. For safety reasons, we will not give out any information about how to get to the bus, hints about the trail, or referrals to anyone who can show you the way. During the winter, the trail is safe and is more easily traversed by dogsled, snow machine, or cross-country skiing.
Can we see Denali from the trail?
Unfortunately, due to trail positions along the Alaska Range, Denali is not visible.
Will I get dirty/muddy/wet?
The short answer is Yes. All ATVs and Side by Side ATVs are open and riders are exposed to the elements. All ATV trails are dirt trails so on dry days, trails will be dusty and when it is raining, trails will be muddy. It is not uncommon to get dirty/muddy/wet on tour! Much of it depends on how fast you are driving, whether you are leaving a large enough distance between yourself and the ATV in front of you, if you are driving through the puddles, if you are speeding through the river beds. You do not have to walk away from the tour wet and covered in mud, but if you want to, it is possible. Side by Side ATVs are covered with a roof, windshield, and half doors. Water may come in through the floorboards of the Side by Side ATV, but it can drain out.
ATV Driver & Passenger Policies
What is the age limit to drive an ATV?
Alaska State law requires all ATV drivers to be 16 years of age or older. Our policy is: Single ATV – 18 to drive, but 16 with parental permission and valid Driver’s License. Side-by-Side ATV – 18 to drive with a valid Driver’s License.
My kid/minor is 16 but has a learner’s permit. Can he/she drive his own ATV?
If the child can provide proof of age AND the parents/guardians are going on the tour understanding that they are responsible for the 16 year old’s driving, then yes. Parents/Guardians will need to sign their minor’s waiver form.
My kids would like to go but I would prefer not to. Are youth/minors allowed to ATV by themselves?
Unfortunately, they are not. We require anyone under the age of 16 and without a driver’s license to be accompanied by a responsible adult. By participating, we mean to join in on the actual tour alongside the youth.
Is my driver’s license needed to check-in for a tour?
All Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and proof of age. An International Driver’s License and/or Passport is allowed.
Who can go as a Passenger?
Anyone can go as a passenger! Our tours are for all ages and all abilities! Children 1-15 years old will always be passengers in a Side-by-Side ATV. Anyone without a valid Driver’s License is restricted to being a passenger in a Side-by-Side ATV. Passengers are not allowed on the Single ATVs.
Can I bring my baby on tour?
We provide car seats and booster seats for small children and infants or guests can bring their own. Our car seats are forward facing so infants should be over 35lbs, able to sit up and hold their head up on their own and they must wear a helmet at all times.
Can my child ride on my lap?
No. ATVs are motorized vehicles that fall under AK state laws. Everyone, including children, must have their own seat, just like a car. ATVs have the same laws as vehicles in Alaska. Children cannot be held, put in front or back, or sit between parents.
Can my child/partner ride on the single ATV with me?
No one can ride tandem on the single ATVs because they are single seat vehicles. Riders must be able to shift their weight to accommodate for changes in terrain.
I don’t want to go on the tour but I would like to watch my family. Is it possible for me to watch them ride?
Unfortunately, we cannot allow anyone who is not participating on course. The ATV trail system is in a remote location and is not accessible to the general public. Seats on shuttle are limited and reserved for participants only.
Health Requirements & Accommodations
I am pregnant. Would I be able to ride an ATV?
Tours are not recommended for pregnant women. Consult a doctor before booking a tour.
I have had recent surgery. Am I going to get bounced around?
Tours are not recommended for anyone who has had recent surgery or anyone with neck or back issues. Consult a doctor before booking a tour. Trails are not smooth and you will get jarred/bumped around.
I have limited mobility. Can I still go on tour?
We try to be as accommodating as possible. It may be possible to go with a guide or to drive their own ATV.
I am deaf/hard of hearing. Can I still go on tour?
Helmets are required on tour and may not fit easily over hearing devices. Please consider if wearing a helmet will affect you. As long as you can understand directions from the guides, we can accommodate you.
Are there weight or height restrictions?
Not really! Customers need to be able to fit into a helmet but we go all the way up to 4XL! Kodiak ATVs – 460 lbs, no height limit. Side by Side ATVs – over 1000 lbs total; height is tricky but we have had guests over 6’7 on tour!
Reservations & Tour Policies
How far in advance do we need to make a reservation?
This depends on the season. Generally, during our summer season our tours fill up two to three months ahead of time so it is highly recommended that you book your tour at least a month in advance. If you are flexible with your schedule and have several days or times, it may be possible to book a tour a week to a few days in advance. If you have limited time, you should reserve your tour as soon as possible.
Can I pay in cash when we get there?
We take full payment at the time of the reservation. If you would like to pay in cash upon arrival, we will be happy to refund your credit card when you check-in.
Can you hold a spot for me?
Unfortunately, we do not reserve space on tours without full payment. Our tours are kept to a limited size and do fill up quickly during the season.
Can I put down a deposit?
We take full payment at the time of the reservation. For large groups or large transactions, please contact us.
Do I need to sign a waiver?
Yes, all participants must sign a participation agreement. All Minor Aged Drivers (ages 16 and 17) must have the additional parental permission portion signed.
Which is the better tour? Morning or Evening?
With almost 24 hours of daylight during most of our summer tours, there is no difference between the morning, afternoon, and evening departures! Choose which one fits into your schedule best. You may think that 8am sounds early but consider time zone changes. Animals usually prefer the cool of the morning.
I have my own ATV. Can I go on your tour with my ATV?
Anyone with their own ATVs can follow any and all of our tours at no cost. However, you must remain behind the rear guide at all times. The ATV followers are not officially part of the tour group and therefore, Denali ATV Adventures cannot be held responsible for them. If they become hurt or injured, or their ATV gets stuck or breaks down, our guides will not stop to help. ATV followers should arrive at the launch site, ready to go, 15 minutes prior to the tour departure time.?
Do you rent ATVs? Where can I rent ATVs?
No, we do not rent ATVs but our sister company Denali Toy Rentals does. Please contact them for ATV rentals – 907-683-2300
Why is my pickup time after the tour time?
Tour times are the times that the tour group departs from the Denali ATV Tour Office in the Denali Canyon. Tour lengths are from pick-up to drop-off from locations in the Denali Canyon. If your pickup location is north of the Denali Canyon, we will pick you up on the way to the Denali ATV Launch site.
Can I drive to the Denali ATV Launch site?
Guests staying at the Lakeview Inn are within walking distance to the launch site. Guests staying in Healy, or those who have their own car and want to drive to the launch must park in the designated guest parking spots.
What if I am running late?
If you are late for your tour or do not show up, you will not be refunded. As a company we will have incurred all the same expenses and will have sadly turned other guests away who wanted your spot. Be careful to plan well in advance for traffic and train/bus schedules.
When does the Alaska Railroad Train leave? Can I still go on tour and make it to the Train?
The Southbound train to Anchorage leaves the Train Depot in the National Park daily at 12:30 pm. If you are going on the 8am Wilderness tour and need to catch that train, we will drop you off at the station. Most hotels do a bag collection for the train early in the morning on the day of the departure. The 10 am Trailblazer will not get back in time. The Northbound train to Fairbanks leaves the Train Depot in the National Park daily at 3:30 pm. The 8 am Wilderness and 10am Trailblazer will get back in time for the departure.
Weather & Wildlife
What is the weather like in the summer?
During the summer, the temperature can be anywhere from 30-90 degrees and you may experience that all in the same day! There are multiple microclimates in the Denali region, making it difficult to predict the weather on any given day. The weather in the canyon is often very different from the weather at the Launch. Summer is monsoon season and rain is expected. It is not uncommon for it to snow.
It’s raining/snowing/windy/cold. Are we still going on tour?
ATV tours depart and continue in all conditions. Weather changes quickly in the Alaska Range so it’s best to be prepared for everything!
Will we see wildlife?
Yes! Maybe! No! This is not a zoo, so animals are not guaranteed – Moose, fox, porcupines, snowshoe hares, sheep, lynx, wolves, bears. Morning and late afternoon are typically best times; Longer tours offer better chances.
What is the best time of the day to see the most wildlife?
During the summer, we have almost 24 hours of complete daylight, so no time is really better than another for animal spotting. Often rainy days bring out more moose, looking for relief from the direct sunlight. It seems that animals are more active early morning and later evening but there really is no difference!
Don’t the ATVs just scare all the animals away?
Moose are not frightened by ATV engines and will often be on the trails, along the trails, or walking through our launch site! Smaller animals are more skittish and harder to spot in the brush.
What to Wear or Bring
What should I wear?
Wear clothing appropriate for all weather and conditions. Layers are best in Denali, including a wind/rain layer. Wear clothing that can get dirty or wet.
What type of footwear is required?
Closed-Toe shoes are required! Sturdy sneakers or boots are best for our tour and for Denali. Flip-flops and sandals are not allowed. Rocks and trail debris can hurt and the foot rests of the single ATVs are like metal grates.
Can I wear my own glasses/sunglasses? Do goggles fit over glasses?
Eye protection is mandatory on the single ATVs – our goggles, your sunglasses, your prescription glasses, or the windshield of the Side by Side ATV. Our goggles DO fit over most prescription glasses. Even though the Side by Side ATVs have windshields, eye protection is suggested, especially those with sensitive eyes.
Do I have to wear a helmet? Can I bring my own helmet?
Helmets are required by law – we have all sizes from Kids XS-XL, Adult XS-4XL. A personal motorcycle or moto style helmet can be used. Bike helmets or other sport helmets are not allowed.
Can I bring a camera with me?
Yes, small point-and-shoot cameras will fit in the glove compartment of the Side by Side ATV. It is recommended that larger cameras are worn and covered with a jacket/shirt.
Can I take a bag with me?
Yes, you can wear a backpack on the single ATVs and put bags in the back of the Side by Side ATV or on the floorboards. Be aware that bags my become dusty/dirty/wet on the trail. We recommend that you only bring what you need and leave the rest of your belongings in your hotel room or at the ATV launch.
Can I take drinks/snacks?
Yes, you can bring non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.