DENALI MOUNTAIN MORNING HOSTEL & CABINS

FAQ's
Click on a question below for the answer.

What exactly is a hostel, am I too old to stay there?

How many days should we plan to stay in Denali?

Do I need to make reservations, and how do I do so?

What are your toilets and showers like?

What is your policy regarding children?

Do you allow pets?

What is your cancellation policy, what if I just want to change dates?

Is Travel Insurance really necessary or affordable?

When can I check in and what is the latest I can check out?

To visit Denali, should I fly into Fairbanks or Anchorage?

How should we travel to Denali? Do we need a car? What are my transportation options?

How will I get from the Park to the hostel and from the hostel to the Park?

What will the weather be like and what should I bring to wear?

What do you recommend we do while we are there, can you help us book our tours?

Am I able to rent a car in Denali?

Do you have kitchen facilities for your guests?

Can we use the hostel facilities during the day?

Do you have a quiet time so we can get some sleep?

Do you serve free morning coffee for your guests, and is it fair-trade, organic goodness?

Is the hostel "green" minded?

Can we buy our groceries there or should we bring them with us?

If we don't plan to cook, where can we eat?

Do you provide storage space for luggage and gear?

Do you have camping gear for rent?

What about bears, how dangerous are they and how should I act around them?

Can you help us get to the "Into the Wild" Bus?

Do you guarantee we will not have too many mosquitoes there?

What is the deal, is it Denali or Mt. McKinley?

Is there a question that should be here that we missed?

What exactly is a hostel, am I too old to stay there?

Good question. We know that there are a lot of people who are not familiar or only partially familiar with hostels and hostelling.

Hostels are inexpensive, safe, supervised accommodations for travelers of all ages. Hostels have "common spaces" or "common rooms" to facilitate meeting your fellow hostellers who come from the world over. Life-long friendships are made at hostels every day. Another feature is hostels always provide a kitchen so guests can cook and share meals. Most hostels provide dormitory-style shared rooms which are commonly, but not always, separated by gender. We offer male, female mixed-gender/non gender separated or coed dormitories and there is a place on the reservation form where you can specify whether you would like gender separate dormitories or not. Some hostels require you to be a member of an association, most do not anymore, we don´t.

There are seldom regulations requiring minimum standards for hostels so you may find places that call themselves a hostel, mostly for marketing schemes, but which clearly are not. We have seen this, even in Denali, but trust us, Denali Mountain Morning Hostel, often called the best hostel in Alaska and sometimes the best in the world, is also Denali´s only REAL hostel and have been for the past 12 years. Hostelers know to look for the real deal and if after staying at a real hostel you want to stay at more, make sure they meet the definition above. A good source of real hostels here in Alaska is the Alaska Hostel Association. You can find them by clicking HERE.

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How many days should we plan to stay in Denali?

We get this question a lot and it´s a good one. This depends a lot on the individual, BUT, if you are interested in hiking in a beautiful tundra/alpine expanse, venturing out into a six million acre wilderness preserve by bus, foot or bike and searching for the numerous bears, moose, Dall sheep, caribou, fox, marmots, wolves, etc. that it harbors, going rafting, golfing, flight-seeing, learning about dog mushing and just plain relaxing in a magnificent mountain landscape, then we can safely say that you will want a lifetime.

If this isn't possible, you will probably want a minimum of three nights here. This is the average, with many happy travelers staying for a week or more. We, however, limit your stay to 6 days at our hostel. Keep in mind that it can rain a lot here in the summer, in addition to the grand 20,320ft Denali, or Mt. McKinley, being enshrouded by clouds on many a day. The possibility of overcast weather makes having three or more days here a nice option. Some people come up for just two days and are often not disappointed.

But if you think about it, you travel up on day one, spend the night, go into the park on day two, spend the night, go on tours or hiking or back into the park on day three, spend the night and depart the next day, you will have seen and done a lot, but you can see it would be hard to do it in less.

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Do I need to make reservations, and how do I do so?

We STRONGLY recommend that you make reservations, as the summer months are very busy in the Denali area. June, July and August are especially busy months. It is possible to show up without a reservation and get a bed, but we can't guarantee that we will have space for you as we usually do fill up. If you want private accommodations you should be ready to book in January as they fill up quickly. The same goes for tours and travel tickets. Don't delay once you know when you are coming. You can secure your reservation with a credit card via our secure reservation form by clicking HERE. During the summer season you can also call your reservation in.

AN IMPORTANT THING TO KEEP IN MIND. You will be charged for the entire amount of your stay, including tax at the TIME OF THE RESERVATION! If your plans change and you need to cancel or change dates there may be a cost associated with it. For more information please scroll down to the next item here to see OUR CANCELLATION POLICY.

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What are your toilets and showers like?

First, all of our showers and toilets are shared. We have no accommodations with private facilities. However, they are what we call “home-style”. That is when you use one, you lock the door behind you and it is just you inside. They are not commercial style where many people are in together. So, be comfortable, but don’t take too much time either. We work very hard to make sure they are clean and working well. If you find that to not be the case, please let us know right away.

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What is your policy regarding children?

Children are not allowed to stay in the Razorback Cabin. Children under 5 stay free, but can’t stay in the Octagon Private Room. Children must be at least 12 to stay in a dormitory if their parent is staying in the room with them, they must be 16 otherwise.

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Do you allow pets?

Most pets are allowed but you need to check with us first and you must tell us you have a pet when you check in. Pets are only allowed in cabins or tents, not the dormitories. If you are staying in a dormitory you can leave your pet in your vehicle overnight. You may NOT leave your pet at the hostel while you are gone. The pet must be kept off the furnishings and any messes must be cleaned up right away by the owner.

If your dog barks too much or scares other guests with its aggressiveness or growling/barking, you and the pet will have to leave, and without a refund. If we find your pet has been on the furnishings, or relieves itself in the cabin, you will have to pay for the extra cleaning. If the pet has an accident inside, please let us know, we will provide the cleaning supplies and you can clean it up. Any damages to property will be paid by the owner.

Basically if it is a good pet and a good owner it will be fine. If not, you and the pet will be leaving and paying extra. Please keep in mind this is up to the discretion of the hostel manager and staff, and in the end it is your risk/responsibility if you want to bring your pet.

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What is your cancellation policy, what if I just want to change dates?

OF MOST IMPORTANCE: Our Cancellation/Changes/No-show Policy is applied to everyone equally. No exceptions are made under any circumstances and no part is negotiable. Making our policy firm helps make sure that all of our guests are treated equally and fairly. We strongly recommend travel insurance. Scroll down as necessary to find the policy that is relevant to your reservation.

QUICK LINKS (click on these choices)

Individual Hostel Beds or Tents - Not part of a group
Private Room or Cabins
Groups of 5 to 8 Guests
Groups of 9 or More
Commercial Groups (Did you pay someone else for this stay?)
TOURS and TRAVEL TICKETS

ACCOMMODATIONS POLICIES

RESERVATIONS FOR PRIVATE ROOMS OR CABINS, BUNK CABINS RENTED PRIVATELY AND GROUPS OF 5 TO 8 PEOPLE

ACCOMMODATION CANCELLATIONS: To be eligible for a refund you must cancel no less than TWO WEEKS in advance of the date or dates you are canceling. All cancellations or part thereof that occurs with less than TWO-WEEK'S notice do NOT qualify for a refund. If you cancel a reservation which you made within TWO WEEKS of your stay, you do NOT qualify for a refund. If you cancel a reservation at least TWO WEEKS in advance of your stay you qualify for a refund. However you will be charged $10.00 or 10% (whichever is greater) of the full cost of what you are canceling.

CHANGES: If you make any changes to an existing reservation you will be charged $10 or 10% (whichever is greater) of the amount the change lowers your cost. Changes that increase your cost will not be charged a Change Fee. For changes which result in no change in cost, you will be charged $10. Changes must be made at least TWO WEEKS in advance the dates you are changing. Changes after that time will be treated as a cancellation and new reservation.

NO-SHOWS: If you have not arrived by 10:00 PM on the first night of your reservation, we will leave you a Late Arrival Notice on the Office Front Door explaining how to find your accommodations.

If you have still not arrived by 7:30 AM the next morning and we have not been contacted by you, we will consider you a No-Show. If this occurs ANY REMAINING PORTION OF YOUR RESERVATION WILL BE CANCELLED AND YOUR RESERVED ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR RE-RENTAL. You will NOT receive a refund regardless of whether the accommodations are re-rented or not.

If you arrive after we have cancelled your reservation and wish to stay on a date you originally reserved, which has not been re-rented, you may do so at no additional cost.

CANCELLATION NUMBERS: If you cancel a reservation in person, by telephone or by internet, you will be given a cancellation number. KEEP THIS NUMBER. It is the ONLY acceptable proof that you cancelled.

SHUTTLE USE: Groups of 7 or more who wish to use our shuttle will need to arrange private shuttle trips with us and there is a charge for this service. See Shuttles for more information. For all other guests this service is at no charge.

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HOSTEL BEDS AND TENTS*

ACCOMMODATION CANCELLATIONS: To be eligible for a refund you must cancel no less than THREE DAYS in advance of the date or dates you are canceling. All cancellations or part thereof that occurs with less than THREE-DAY'S notice do NOT qualify for a refund. If you cancel a reservation which you made within THREE DAYS of your stay, you do NOT qualify for a refund. If you cancel a reservation at least THREE DAYS in advance of your stay you qualify for a refund. However you will be charged $10.00 or 10% (whichever is greater) of the full cost of what you are canceling.

CHANGES: If you make any changes to an existing reservation you will be charged $10 or 10% (whichever is greater) of the amount the change lowers your cost. Changes that increase your cost will not be charged a Change Fee. For changes which result in no change in cost, you will be charged $10. Changes must be made at least THREE DAYS in advance the dates you are changing. Changes after that time will be treated as a cancellation and new reservation.

NO-SHOWS: If you have not arrived by 10:00 PM on the first night of your reservation, we will leave you a Late Arrival Notice on the Office Front Door explaining how to find your accommodations.

If you have still not arrived by 7:30 AM the next morning and we have not been contacted by you, we will consider you a No-Show. If this occurs ANY REMAINING PORTION OF YOUR RESERVATION WILL BE CANCELLED AND YOUR RESERVED ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR RE-RENTAL. You will NOT receive a refund regardless of whether the accommodations are re-rented or not.

If you arrive after we have cancelled your reservation and wish to stay on a date you originally reserved, which has not been re-rented, you may do so at no additional cost.

CANCELLATION NUMBERS: If you cancel a reservation in person, by telephone or by internet, you will be given a cancellation number. KEEP THIS NUMBER. It is the ONLY acceptable proof that you cancelled.

SHUTTLE USE: Groups of 7 or more who wish to use our shuttle will need to arrange private shuttle trips with us and there is a charge for this service. See Shuttles for more information. For all other guests this service is at no charge.

*Who are not part of a group of 9 or more.

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GROUPS OF 9 OR MORE AND COMMERCIAL TOUR GROUPS

ACCOMMODATION REQUIREMENTS: Groups of 9 or more and commercial groups are required to pay a minimum of 20% down at the time of the reservation with the remainder due no later than 45 days prior to your arrival. If you fail to pay in full at least 45 days in advance, the reservation will be cancelled and you will forfeit your down payment.

ACCOMMODATION CANCELLATIONS: Cancellations must be made no less than THIRTY DAYS before your stay to be eligible for a refund. Cancellations made less than THIRTY DAYS prior to the date or dates being cancelled will not qualify for a refund. If you cancel all or any portion of your reserved accommodations at least THIRTY DAYS in advance, you will be entitled to a refund however you will be charged $25.00 or 20% (whichever is greater) of the full cost of what you are canceling.

CHANGES: If you make any changes to your reservation you will be charged $25 or 20% (whichever is greater) of the amount the change lowers your cost. Changes that increase your cost will not be charged a Change Fee. For changes which result in no change in cost, you will be charged $25. Changes requested with less than THIRTY-DAY'S notice are not eligible for refund and will be treated as a cancellation and new reservation.

NO-SHOWS: If you have not arrived by 10:00 PM on the first night of your reservation, we will leave you a Late Arrival Notice on the Office Front Door explaining how to find your accommodations.

If you have still not arrived by 7:30 AM the next morning and we have not been contacted by you, we will consider you a No-Show. If this occurs ANY REMAINING PORTION OF YOUR RESERVATION WILL BE CANCELLED AND YOUR RESERVED ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR RE-RENTAL. You will NOT receive a refund regardless of whether the accommodations are re-rented or not.

If you wish to stay on a date you originally reserved, but which was cancelled because of a no-show, you may, if the accommodations are still available – at no additional cost.

CANCELLATION NUMBERS: If you cancel a reservation in person, by telephone or by internet, you will be given a cancellation number. KEEP THIS NUMBER. It is the ONLY acceptable proof that you cancelled.

SHUTTLE USE: Groups of 7 or more who wish to use our shuttle will need to arrange private shuttle trips with us and there is a charge for this service. See Shuttles for more information. For all other guests this service is at no charge.

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TOURS AND TRAVEL TICKETS

OF MOST IMPORTANCE: Our Cancellation/Changes Policy is applied to everyone equally. No exceptions are made under any circumstances and no part is negotiable. Making our policy firm helps make sure that all of our guests are treated equally and fairly.

CANCELLATIONS:
Each tour and transportation provider has their own specific cancellation policies. These policies are detailed on each tour’s or travel description page on this web site. You must affirm that you have read the specific cancellation policy of the tour(s) and/or transportation you are requesting and agree to be bound by them.

Any refunds will depend on the providers' policies. If one is owed to you, it will incur a cancellation fee of $10 per reserved tour or ticket or groups of tickets if booked together.

CHANGES:
If you make any changes to your reserved tours or travel, you will be charged whatever amount may be called for based on the provider's written policy. In addition to what the providers may charge, you will additionally be charged a change fee of $10 on all customer-initiated tour and travel reservation changes.

Denali Mountain Morning Hostel & Cabins is a contractually authorized source of passes for tours and tickets for transportation companies. We are not associated with any provider in any other manner.
We do not accept any liability to anyone regarding anything which occurs prior to, during, or after your tour or travel.
Our only participation is that of facilitating your reservation and purchase.  We accept your payment and guarantee payment to the provider on your behalf.
We have presented their offers to the best of our ability, based on the information they have provided us. Please notify us of any found errors.
Prices are subject to change.  Travel Insurance is recommended.

Updated October 30, 2013 Valid for 2014

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Is Travel Insurance really necessary or affordable?

Alaska is an expensive place to visit and you have a lot of money invested in your trip. Cancellation deadlines, a missed flight and all of a sudden your great vacation is now not just a headache but could be a huge financial loss. That is why we strongly advise Travel Insurance, for your peace of mind. It is probably more affordable than you think and you can find out without any obligation.

Non-US residents can send us an email and we will gather all the details and let you know with NO pressure or sales pitches.

We offer this as a service to you!Click HERE for more information.

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When can I check in and what is the latest I can check out?

Check-in time is from 4:00pm - 10:00pm. Later arrivals are permitted too, just let us know. Check out is at 10:00am. Another important thing to remember is that the office is temporarily closed during our shuttle operations into the park. GENERALLY 5:00pm to 5:55pm and 9:10pm to 9:50pm. Those are approximations!

If you arrive while we are on a shuttle run, you could go on to the park and perhaps get your tickets for the bus into the park you will probably be taking or you could relax by the creek or you can have coffee, beer, or wine at the cafe across the highway.

It is difficult to check people in prior to 4 PM, so we hope you don't ask. We have no one in the office and are busy cleaning prior to then.

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To visit Denali, should I fly into Fairbanks or Anchorage?

Denali Mountain Morning Hostel and Cabins is located about 2.5 hours (130 miles) from Fairbanks and about 4.5 hours (224 miles) from Anchorage. Although Fairbanks is closer, most flights coming to this part of Alaska arrive in Anchorage first and then may continue to Fairbanks. It usually (but not always) costs more to fly on to Fairbanks. If you plan to visit the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, Anchorage is a better choice. Most people fly into Anchorage.

There is bus service and train service to both Fairbanks and Anchorage. You need to do some research though. There are some airlines that fly into Fairbanks that don't land in Anchorage which may offer a better price or times.

If you don't rent a car, you will be coming by bus or train. We are an authorized ticket vendor for the Alaska Railroad, The Park Connection Motorcoach and the Denali Shuttle. The railroad and The Park Connection serve Anchorage and Denali. The railroad and Denali Shuttle serve Fairbanks and Denali.

We can book your tickets on any combination of these you wish and WE SELL DISCOUNT TICKETS for travel on the Alaska Railroad and Denali Shuttle and of course on most of the local tours. You can learn more by Clicking Here.

If you spend a night in Anchorage, we recommend you stay at Spenard Hostel International. The Alaska/Yukon Trails bus, another travel option to Denali picks up and drops off at Spenard's door if you ask. Plus we really do think it is the best hostel in Anchorage. Lastly, the trip from Anchorage is quite scenic with great views of 'the mountain' on both the bus and the train weather permitting.

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How should we travel to Denali? Do we need a car? What are my transportation options?

Your three best options for transport between Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks are taking a bus, taking the train or renting a car, or hitch-hiking. (Okay, I guess that's four.) Hitch-hiking is technically illegal in Alaska, however it is very common and we have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for it. If you are on the Parks Highway, have a backpack and a sign saying where you are going, you usually are given a ride in a short time. Most hostels have a 'rider board' where you can often find rides as well. The train costs more than the bus, but the trip is very scenic and relaxing; buses are faster and cheaper than the train and both follow the same general route. Finally we do have plenty of parking space for rental cars.

PLEASE! IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU TELL US HOW YOU ARE ARRIVING.

If you don't know yet when you reserve, please do let us know once you have decided. We need to know whether to expect you on our shuttle to be sure we have room for you. You can click HERE for more transportation information. And for more information on our FREE shuttle you can click HERE.

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How will I get from the Park to the hostel and from the hostel to the Park?

We provide a shuttle to and from the national park FOUR TIMES DAILY. Our shuttle service leaves the hostel daily at 6:35 AM, getting you to the Park WILDERNESS ACCESS CENTER (WAC), where all park tour and shuttle buses depart, before 7:00 AM. That means, if you are using our shuttle, do not schedule a tour or activity that departs prior to 7 AM unless you plan to book a private shuttle run. Read on for more information on those.

This shuttle trip is also the one used by guests leaving on the morning Parks Connection Bus. We drop you off at McKinley Village on the way. Our second shuttle of the morning departs to the WAC at 8:20 AM, arriving at the WAC by 8:40 AM.

Our shuttle service picks up from the WAC at 5:30 PM and 9:30 PM. Click HERE for more information. And remember, YOU are responsible to be at the right place at the right time utilize our shuttle service. We cannot wait for you or take time to look for you. We have a responsibility to everyone to leave on time as they have scheduled their events with that in mind. If we have to come back, you will be charged for a Private Shuttle Run. We offer Private Shuttle Runs to guests. The cost is $50 for up to 14 people and must be scheduled around our normal trips. If you have a car, there is ample free parking at the WAC and you find it more convenient to use your car than the shuttle.

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What will the weather be like and what should I bring to wear?
Wow! If we could answer that we would be rich! The best answer is "It is variable."

Regardless of what the forecast is be prepared. Wear layers and have wet weather gear with you at all times. We are on top of the continental divide in the Alaska Range. Some weather gets over the mountains to us and some doesn't. We have seen it snow every month of the year, although that is uncommon. What is not uncommon is for the weather to be completely different 10 miles from where you are at any given time.

Plan for some rain, clouds, windy and cold. If it turns out it isn't any of those you will be happy, fortunate and most importantly you will be prepared because you dressed in layers for the days it is sunny and hot.

Waterproof boots are better than tennis shoes or sandals. Head nets for mosquitoes are nice to have and inexpensive. Gaiters can be nice if you are hiking because after a rain shower the vegetation stays wet. Mosquito repellant is a must and so is sun block. Remember the sun is up all day and most of the night. If it is clear that is a lot of sun. If you do get drenched it is nice to have extra clothes especially socks. A hat and light gloves are great to have.

As for weather expectations daytime highs are generally 50 to 70 F. Lows 35 to 45 F. But as we said, it can be below freezing or up to 75 plus. In mid-summer it will be at least partially light for up to 23 hours a day so you may want to bring an eye mask.

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What do you recommend we do while we are there, can you help us book our tours?

Yes, we have lots of things we recommend and are happy to book for you. Things such as Rafting (whitewater or gentle); Flight-seeing; Fly-fishing; Tour of Iditarod Champ Jeff King's kennel and watch a dog team demonstration and much more! Remember to book your tours and travel tickets with us, we discount them so you pay less than anywhere else -

YOU PAY EVEN LESS THAN YOU PAY BOOKING DIRECTLY WITH THE PROVIDERS!

Click HERE for a complete list of what we offer.

We can't book the buses that take you back into the park. You have to do that on your own, but you can do it on-line. Go HERE for more information.

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Am I able to rent a car in Denali?

There is a very small rental car company in Denali. But, it is usually much cheaper to rent a car in Anchorage or Fairbanks, because you'd save the price of getting to Denali on the bus or train. But if you find yourself here and wishing you had a car you can click HERE for more information. Another option is you can reserve a private shuttle trip to the Park (or wherever). Private shuttles ONLY run during times it is not needed for our normal runs. There is also one taxi service in the area. More information on the taxi can be found by clicking HERE.

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Do you have kitchen facilities for your guests?

We have a fully-equipped kitchen for our guests so that you can cook your own food. This is a great way to save some money, eat what you like to eat, and have a conversation with someone from Japan, Spain, Michigan or even Hobson, Montana (where?).

Our kitchen is located in the Octagon and is available to all of our guests. Amenities include coffee urn, microwave, stoves, ovens, utensils, plates, cups, pots, pans, etc. - just about everything you might need to make a great meal happen! An outside barbeque grill is also available for use by our guests at no charge. And don't forget our Free Organic, Conscientiously-purchased, locally roasted coffee. Tea, sugar and creamer is available too. Groceries can be purchased in Anchorage or Fairbanks or at the Riley Creek Mercantile in the park.

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Can we use the hostel facilities during the day?

Yes, for the most part. Sometime between 10 AM and 4 PM the Octagon and kitchen will be shut down for an hour or two for cleaning. You won’t be allowed inside during that time. The same goes for the shower house. If you check with the cleaner he or she may be able to give you better time approximations. This might be a great time to go for a hike. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy our little piece of heaven. It’s your vacation!

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Do you have a quiet time so we can get some sleep?

YES! AND PLEASE OBEY IT. Our quiet time is from 11 PM to 7 PM. It includes all cabins, dormitories, tents, the Octagon and THE FIRE PIT!

Please respect your fellow travelers by whispering during this time and not cooking and/or making a bunch of noise. Failing to do so can end your stay. Feel free to remind noisy people to be quiet. If there is a problem with this or anything, we have someone on site you can contact to take care of it. If by chance there is no one at the on-site residence, there is a phone number listed by the phone in the common area to get help coming.

We first hope people will behave and if not that they will once they have been asked to. Please only contact us after hours for real problems and emergencies that a mere request won’t fix. It isn´t unusual for people to not realize that it is 11 PM and when the sun is shining. If there are people abusing this rule, please let us know, don’t go sleepless.

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Do you serve free morning coffee for your guests, and is it fair-trade, organic goodness?

Why, YES WE DO, thanks for asking!! We are psyched (very happy) to be serving a Locally Roasted, Conscientiously-purchased, Organic Coffee. We have served Folgers in the past, a coffee more in-line with our budget, but not in-line with our social consciousness. We feel that is important to support sustainable practices in an industry that represents the largest US import.

Americans are the largest consumers of coffee in the world, yet many Americans don't realize that agricultural workers in coffee producing countries are often receiving far less than living wages for their toil, that rainforests are being cleared for coffee production and that pesticides banned in the US are still being used by coffee producers in third world countries on the coffee beans that we consume. While the coffee we serve may not always be certified fair-trade, we always purchase our coffee very conscientiously in that regard.

That is why we serve only the best to our guests. We will have a donation can next to the coffee so that anyone who supports our efforts can help us out with the costs, which are much higher than serving Folgers. In the long-run, we think it's worth it!!

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Is the hostel 'green' minded?

We try to be. We told you about the coffee and why we buy the coffee we do (just above). In addition we use only 7th Generation toilet paper and paper towels which use only recycled paper. Did you know that if every US household replaced one 4-pack of 300 sheet virgin fiber toilet paper with our 100% recycled product, we could save 1.6 million cubic feet of landfill space? And we go through a lot more than rolls in a summer! We use only earth-friendly laundry soap and cleaning products as well.

We did offer recycling, but there is no place for us to reasonably transport it any longer, which is very sad and frankly for a place as special as Denali, unconscionable. We will start recycling again as soon as we can find a way.

In the mean time, our biggest effort in this regard is that we have stopped selling bottled water. So bring your water bottle or buy one at our store or from many outlets at the park. You will find great tasting, pure, clean, tested fresh, cold water right from our taps, so why drink or sell bottled? In the US alone we produce over 1.5 million pounds of trash from un- recycled water bottles each year. Do you realize how long it would take us to make a mountain of water bottles the size of Denali? Well, we don't either, but you get the point.

Additionally, we have some other cool ideas and plans in the works. Stay tuned for those.

So yes, we try to be green.

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Can we buy our groceries there or should we bring them with us?

We carry a very limited amount of grocery items in our gift shop. If you have a car, there are a couple of small grocery stores we can lead you to, but for a better selection and price, you should consider buying in Anchorage or Fairbanks on your way. If you are using our shuttle system, there is a way to get to one of the small markets, but again you probably should try to buy in Anchorage or Fairbanks on your way through. You can get sack lunches for your trip into the park at the Creekside Cafe' just across the highway from the hostel and they will take your order the night before.

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If we don't plan to cook, where can we eat?

We are lucky in that we have a great cafe' right across the street. The Creekside Cafe' is good home-baked cafe grubbin! Good food, better prices than most around and they will even make you a great box lunch for your trip into the park and you can even order it the night before so it is ready for you early in the morning without delay. We also highly recommend a reasonably-priced fine dining just 5 miles up the road. How fine? Well, only "The best food in Alaska" (according to the New York Times)! We second that! Information about this wonderful restaurant can be found at the 229 Parks. No car? It is worth finding a way there.

There is a pizza joint nearby as well. We don't want to speak ill of anyone, but we have received complaints from past guests regarding charges on credit cards there, and whatever you do don't ring the bell above the bar! It means you are buying EVERYONE in the bar a drink. We had one guest from another country report she rang the bell not knowing what it was and was forced to pay a very large bill. It is a popular place and we hear the pizza is good enough, just stay aware, check your bill and you should be fine. There is another restaurant up the hill from there, owned by the same absentee owner. Past reports of food quality and service have been quite varied as well.

Our advice? We recommend the 229 Parks and the McKinley Creekside. If you have a hunger for a great pizza try Prospector's Pizza about 14 miles north in 'the canyon'. Looking for a cold adult beverage? We can direct you to nearby retail liquor stores where you can purchase beer and wine for much less than bar prices. Then you can enjoy them around our campfire, featuring free wood, in our beautiful Octagon common area or on the Octagon's deck while meeting our other great guests.

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Do you provide storage space for luggage and gear?

Yes, we provide a secure space for you to store your gear while you are out camping in the Park, etc! We don't have lockers but you can leave valuables at our office and we will store them for free!

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Do you have camping gear for rent?

Not any longer, sorry. It got to be just too big of a job for us. You can rent gear at Denali Mountain Works located in the canyon. Their link goes to Too-loo'-uk River Guides. That's not a mistake, they are one and the same! Their Telephone number is (907) 683-1542, or in Anchorage there are a couple of places to try Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking and REI.

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What about bears, how dangerous are they and how should I act around them?
Please do not read this if you are queasy or easy to scare and Please don't use what is said as a reason to NOT go into the back country. That would be a shame. The intent is to give you some good knowledge on how to behave in bear country.

Bears are only as dangerous as WE make them. They don't want to have a conflict with you, they assume you don't either, but if you don't behave as they think you should, they are apt to point it out to you.

The park has a long and admirable history of keeping bears from associating people and food. Once bears make that association there are more people-bear encounters. The other primary reason for problems is people not doing what they should. Remember, it is THEIR habitat and YOU are a guest. Please be respectful and responsible, take the time to learn how to interact in the event of a bear encounter, and everyone should be just fine.

There is little in life more exciting than to make eye to eye contact with a bear in their habitat. You feel a million feelings all at once. A connection, respect, awe, luck, a knowledge that you need to take stock of your current situation and options, and sometimes just plain old fear. Normally if you have been doing what you are supposed to, you don't need to fear. The two biggest errors you can make are getting too close to a bear without the bear knowing you are there and getting caught between a sow and her cubs. Number three would probably be spending too much time within their 'discomfort distance'. But, if you take the time to learn a few easy to do things, your encounter will be a life long memory and one that lasts a long time.

Denali is home to both Grizzlies and Black Bear and both occasionally show up at the hostel so it isn't too early to learn bear safety before you arrive. On that topic you should also learn to respect and give proper distance to moose as well. You will most likely see more moose close up than a bear and getting between a cow and her calves, getting too close to a moose, or spending too much time inside their discomfort zone is likely to cause a charge and those hooves can do a lot of damage in a hurry.

We encourage you to search the Internet for lessons on bear safety. And if you are going hiking in Alaska you should take the time to learn how to be bear (and moose) smart.

Here are some pointers. When outside where a bear may be found, keep an eye out and be aware of your surroundings. If while hiking, you find you need to go around a blind corner or through a brushy area, first see if you can avoid it, but if not SING! Be noisy and let any bear nearby know you are human and there. You will probably hear many people simply calling out "Hey Bear" numerous times. That works too. Then, move slow. If you are near a bear and it knows you are there and a good distance away still, it will want to leave and avoid a meeting, but it needs a little time to do that. Then when you get to a clear spot you might see a bear and cubs looking back at you that were obviously previously near where you sang or spoke loudly, it will give you a chill and a smile that you did the right thing.

A hugely important rule is never run. Never EVER run. If you find you have gotten in a bad position and made a bear angry you may still be okay. Avoid direct eye contact and maybe even turn a quarter away and look down at the ground submissively. This will make you look stupid instead of dangerous in the bear's eyes. If you find yourself between a bear and a cub, back away quietly and quickly hopefully before the bear notices. Once a good distance away, SING! Let the bear know you are there and a safe distance away.

If, in the extremely unlikely event, the bear charges you, remember rule one, DON'T RUN.

We heard from a guy who said he encountered a grizzly. The bear saw him first and had cubs. She stood on her hind legs and was snapping her teeth at him. She was so angry she was slobbering from the mouth. Then she dropped and charged. As she did, he instinctively thought to run, but his training had taught him not to and he paused for a split second. He said a split second after that neither leg would move anyway, he was frozen in place with fear. The bear ran right up to him and he leaned forward a bit anticipating the contact. The bear hit the brakes just before hitting him and darted off at 90 degrees. The bear got so close that her slobber flew from her mouth and hit him in the chest. That was the end of it. He said he buried his underwear and moved on. Looking back on it, he says it was one of the most memorable and exciting things he has ever experienced.

That is how it happens, ALMOST every time. By far, (90+%?) a charging bear won't make contact with you. It is just showing dominance and anger that you are not behaving properly. That is if you show submissiveness and don't run. But if you were already too close when you saw each other or you stumbled onto a cub or something and they charge and they actually make contact with you, you need to act.

If you were able to identify if it was a black bear or a grizzly it will help. If it is a black bear that strikes you, fight it. Fight for your life, gouge its eyes, spray it, kick it whatever you can do. You need to show it that you are 'badder' than it is. If it is a grizzly, when it makes contact, drop dead. Curl into a ball, raising your legs to protect your stomach area and place your arms over and surrounding your head and don't move. Try to lean into the ground and let your backpack protect your back. If the bear rolls you over keep rolling back in position. When the bear stops, stay still, stay dead. Wait for a long time, as long as you can, before moving or looking in the direction the bear departed. Odds are the bear moved only a short distance away and is watching you to make sure you are no longer a threat and then will leave. If you move, it will be back to finish the job. If that happens, you just start over playing dead.

There is a story, that we don't know if it's true or not, of a lady who was hiking in the park, looked up a tree and saw a black bear. She screamed, fell to the ground and played dead. The bear eventually got curious about her and climbed down to see what she was doing. The bear sniffed her and then gave her a little bite on the butt. She screamed again and spun around. The bear, scared, ran back up the tree. So don't play dead too soon!

GUNS! They now allow people to bring guns into the park. Our advice is to PLEASE leave them at home. There have been two occurrences of gun use for self-defense in the park since the rule changed. Four animals died that didn't need to and all because people did not behave properly and happened to have a gun. If they didn't have a gun we think they would have been being more careful and probably could have avoided the encounter. In both cases the animals acted predictably.

BEAR SPRAY! It works if you use it properly, that is a proven fact. But if you spray a bear that is charging and that bear is only bluffing and would normally not harm you, what is spraying it going to do? Our thought is to only use it on a black bear after contact has been made, but that choice is a personal one. You should do more research and come to your own plan. And have a plan so if something happens you react immediately according to plan instead of trying to figure out what you want to do.

Bear spray is expensive and you can't take it with you when you fly home. For those two reasons we invite our guests to leave their unused spray for others to carry. You can contact us when you arrive in Alaska to find out if we have any to share.

What has been written here is just an opinion based on research and experience. Please don't sue us if you follow our advice and die. We are poor. Sue the guys at This Link instead. ;) Click Here for some good bear information.

Lastly we hope we haven't scared you or caused you to decide not to hike. That was not the intent and we hope you do go enjoy the wilderness. Please don't fear seeing a bear. It really is an incredible feeling and memory - we just want you to be smart. And please don't take the length of the answer as meaning anything more than there is a lot to the answer, not that it is a the biggest thing to remember.

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Can you help us find the "Into the Wild" Bus?

Yes we can! But, no we won't! First, think about it, Chris McCandless (or McClueless as some call him) DIED trying to get back from there. Many people who have gone out to the see the bus have also DIED trying. Many more have had to be rescued by helicopter incurring the wrath of locals who pay for those resources.

Our advice, don't try to do this. If you are a big fan of Chris' do you think he would want you to die trying to see it? As you know there was a movie made here telling the story. To make the movie they had to build a replica of the bus. That bus is on display at 49th State Brewery near here. We like what the owner, Jason Motyka has to say about it which you can read by clicking HERE.

In short, instead of risking your life, why not see the movie's "Magic Bus" while you enjoy a hamburger and cold beer? Show you are not as clueless.

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Do you guarantee we will not have too many mosquitoes there?

We know this may sound like a funny question, but we have had multiple complaints on travel sites about this. Last year was an especially good year for mosquitoes, not so much for their victims. As a result we had a bumper crop of blueberries courtesy of their pollination work. But seriously, we can’t control them. They come and go, if a new hatching occurs they will be EVERYWHERE. The next day you may not see one.

We recommend you have some bug repellant with you. A head net is nice to have too. We usually have these for sale in our store. Our wall tents have mosquito nets over the cots and we usually have hand held bug zappers you can borrow. They look like a small tennis racket but the stings are metal and operate similar to a bug zapper you may have seen hanging on someone’s porch.

A little planning and preparation on your part will go a long ways toward your comfort and happiness.

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What is the deal, is it Denali or Mt. McKinley?

You might be surprised how long one could talk about this, but we'll keep it short. Most Alaskan's will tell you it's Denali Mountain in Denali National Park. If you are from Outside (elsewhere), especially Ohio, it is Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park which used to be called Mt. McKinley National Park.

Why the difference you ask? The park and mountain were named for presidential candidate William McKinley of Ohio who supported the gold standard and a summertime gold miner from Seattle by the name of Dickey wrote 'a story' in the New York Sun claiming that "We" named the great peak McKinley after the politician. And just like that, the deed was done and remains so today.

The official name of the mountain according to the state government here is Denali, a Native word meaning "The Great One". But to the federal government it's McKinley. They allowed the park to be renamed Denali, but politicians from Ohio fight the change in name of the mountain even today, even though McKinley never stepped foot in Alaska and never saw the Park or the Mountain.

With all due respect to the people from the great state of Ohio, give us a break. How would you like it if we had the desire and authority to force a name change of the Ohio River? Say we choose something like The Sarah Palin Sewage Canal? Just an example.

You will be considered more knowledgeable and show greater respect to many of us, especially Alaska Natives if you call it Denali Mountain. And for extra credit, Denali rhymes with 'den alley' not 'den Ollie'. You can read more at Wikipedia by clicking HERE.

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Is there a question that should be here that we missed?

If you find there was something we didn´t cover here and it would have helped, please let us know and we will add it.

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