Teklanika River Campground – August 2018

We left Savage River Campground to dump and fill our tanks. While we loved our short stay at Savage River and wanted to spend more time there, our next campground would really take us into the park.

Teklanika (tek-la-NEE-ka) River Campground, called “Tek”, is a special campground with a set of unique privileges and restrictions unlike any other campground I’ve ever experienced. This is because it is the only campground in Denali past mile 15 that you can drive to. (There are tent-only campgrounds past mile 15, but you must ride a park bus to them.)

An RV stops at the checkpoint to get their Tek pass and continue beyond mile 15. You can see the road become dirt shortly beyond that point.

After you have reservations at Tek, you drive to the checkpoint at mile 15 and get a Tek camper pass. You can take as long as you want to reach the campground at mile 29, and on the way out you repeat the drive in reverse, again taking as much or little time as you like. The only other ways for private vehicles to drive on this stretch of road is to win the vehicle lottery (limited to September, and the road may be closed due to snow) or get a special pass like the photographer’s pass (also a lottery but limited to professional nature photographers).

There is a three-night minimum stay if you drive into the campground. We stayed five nights. Tenters who take a park bus can camp in Tek for less than three days, but most of those people either camp in one of the tent-only campgrounds or camp in the wilderness. And once your vehicle reaches the Tek campground, you must park it at your campsite for the duration of your stay. The only transportation allowed is by foot, bike or park bus.

Because of the driving restrictions, there is a special bus pass called the Tek bus pass (or “Tek pass”). It guarantees seating on a bus you choose one day, and after that trip you have unlimited use of the green transit busses on a space-available basis. In addition, four seats are supposed to be left empty when each bus leaves so – in theory – as long as there are not four people ahead of you at Tek looking for a ride, you’ll have a seat. (In practice, we found buses overbooked without extra seats, so the bus company seems free to make extra money and sell the promised empty seats.) The cost is the same as a regular single-day transit bus pass, so it’s a great deal. (Single-day passes are $40-60/person, so even though we only took the park bus on two days because of the rain, we still saved $40 on our first bus ride and $80 on the second bus ride.)

Water at the campground is limited to hand pumps and there is no dump station, so you need to bring a full tank of water in with you and make sure you dump before your drive to Tek. Generator hours are also limited to six hours per day (8-10 and 4-8), which was still more than enough time for us even though the solar panels didn’t generate a lot of power in the clouds and rain.

The campground borders the Teklanika River, although there are only a few campsites with a river view. There are no trails at Tek, you can pretty easily walk the river upstream or downstream, and with your Tek pass you can walk the river up to the rest stop (a couple of mile walk, roughly) and catch a bus back to the campground.

Our campsite at Tek. Spacing was decent and we could have gotten decent sun on our solar panels had there been any.

Bears and other wildlife occasionally walk through the campground, although not while we were there. A grizzly sow and cubs did wander by along the river one day, although we unfortunately did not find out until they disappeared into the brush.

We’ll cover our bus rides into the park in our next post. Despite the weather, we enjoyed our time in Tek and would have loved to stay even longer if we’d had better weather.

Day 74 (Day 40 in Alaska)

Miles: 42*
Driving time: 2:00
Roads: Park road
Road conditions: Good (paved and gravel)
Overnight: Teklanika Campground (Denali National Park)
Weather: Mostly cloudy (48/62)
Total miles in Alaska: 1,653*
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 4,213*
Total miles: 5,781*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle mileage includes side trips.

Day 75-78 (Day 41-44 in Alaska)

Miles: 0
Overnight: Teklanika Campground (Denali National Park)
Weather: Cloudy and rainy (50-62)

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