The Teklanika River (also known as the Tek River) flows through Denali National Park and the area has a campground for tent and RV camping.
Teklanika River Campground
The Teklanika River Campground is the second largest Denali campground and offers 53 sites for tent camping and recreational vehicles. It sits on mile 29 of the Denali Park Road and is open from mid-May to mid-September.
Tek has no shower or laundry facilities, no electrical or water hookups, and does not sell firewood. Tek does have potable water.
Driving to the Tek Campground
Teklanika offers a unique opportunity to Denali park visitors. Campers who make a minimum stay of three nights can bypass the end of the road for private vehicles at mile 15 and continue to the Teklanika River Campground
Be careful on your journey past Savage River as the road to Tek has soft gravel shoulders on the edge and at some points there are steep ditches on either side of the road.
Your vehicle must remain at your campsite for the duration of your stay and return to the park entrance only when your stay is complete.
The Tek Pass offers campers the opportunity for unlimited use of the park transit buses. The pass allows campers to travel farther into the park on any non-narrated transit bus and then back to Tek. It does not allow visitors to travel toward the park entrance before the end of their stay. If you return to the park entrance, you must purchase a new bus ticket to get back to Tek Campground.
The non-narrated buses heading into the park begin with at least four empty seats, and the seats on the first bus selected are guaranteed.
Campers can also choose to take the camper bus to the campground if they are tent camping. There is no minimum number of nights for a stay when you are not driving your own vehicle to the campground.
About Teklanika River
The campground is near the shores of the Tek River. The Teklanika River is a 91 mile tributary of the Nenana River in Alaska. It starts at Cantwell Glacier and flows north. Cantwell Glacier is three miles long and is located in Denali National Park 32 miles southwest of Healy. The Tek river is crossed by the park road at mile 31.25, about a mile or so from the campground.
Into the Wild Magic Bus #142 Near Denali National Park
The Teklanika River may be familiar to some documentary fans as it served as an important part of the story of Into the Wild. However, that section of the Tek River is located north of the campground outside of the park.
The Magic Bus is a famous attraction on the Stampede Trail near the northern boundary of Denali National Park. It sits west of Healy and was made famous by the book and movie Into the Wild. The bus is reached by an 18 mile (one way) hike. Hikers must cross the Teklanika River to reach the bus.
Into the Wild was a 2007 movie based on a book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer which tells the story of Christopher McCandless, who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness. The movie was directed by Sean Penn.
McCandless was found dead by moose hunters on September 6, 1992 in the rusting bus near Denali National Park. Fairbanks City Transit bus #142 has become a popular destination since then. The 1946 International Harvester K-5 is reached by Stampede Trail, which is roughly 18.6 miles to the bus from Eightmile Lake. It involves crossing the Teklanika River, which is dangerous at times due to high water. There have been several deaths in the river
Due to the danger of crossing the Tek River, there has been a proposal by a local town to move the bus east of the river to minimize the danger.
How did the Magic Bus get on the Stampede Trail? It was left behind by the Yutan Construction Company to serve as a backcountry shelter. It served as remote accommodations for the construction crew on road improvements towed by bulldozers, but was left behind because it had a broken rear axle.
For those that do not want to risk the river crossing and twenty mile hike, the Magic Bus from the filming is located in the yard of the 49th State Brewing Company in Healy, ten miles from the entrance to Denali.