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Alaska: Free guided hikes explore remote areas of Denali National Park

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska covers a remarkable 6 million acres, which can be both exciting and daunting for those who want to go exploring on foot. Here's one way to lower the anxiety level and decrease your chances of getting lost: Take a free Discovery Hike.

The deal: In summer, park rangers lead groups on Discovery Hikes every day to areas of the park that most people don't see. The rangers talk about plants, wildlife and the natural history of the tundra.

"It's a chance to experience the park more comfortably for people not used to hiking without trails," park spokeswoman Kris Fister said.

Much of the heart of the park, lacking trails, is accessed only by bus along a 92-mile road. (You can drive private vehicles only for the first 15 miles.)

To go on a Discovery Hike, you must sign up in person one or two days in advance at the Denali Visitor Center. Groups are limited to 11 people to minimize impact on the land. Routes range from moderate to strenuous, and the hikes last three to five hours (with a one- to four-hour bus ride each way to and from the trail head).

Rangers post a weekly list of hike itineraries online each Thursday in summer. The bus ride costs $31.50 per person.

When: Hikes are offered daily from early June through late August or early September; exact dates will be determined later.

Tip: Check out the preparation guide on the park's website that offers advice such as how fit you need to be for the hike and what gear and food you should take.

Contact: Denali National Park & Preserve, (907) 683-2294 

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