This campground is one of my favorites so far on our Alaska trip. Yes, it is dry camping with only trash cans, pit toilets, and a few water spigots. There is a camp host located at the entrance, but we have not seen them. It is laid out very nicely and, in spite of some things I have read on-line, is perfect for bigger rigs.
You must make reservations but you are not allowed to reserve a specific site but rather a space in the campground. You should also book your transit pass at the same time. When you do you receive a “reserved time” for the bus on your first full day at the campground. After that it is “space available”. Folks will say on line that you must book months in advance to get a spot, which we did. Ironically we have talked to two different couples in the campground that booked Teklanika less than 48 hours in advance.
If you are driving a vehicle of any type you must reserve a minimum of three nights at Teklanika to reduce vehicle traffic. Those who arrive on a “camper bus” do not have this requirement.
I would recommend arriving earlier in the day to secure the best spots. As I have mentioned before, there is no vehicle traffic except when folks are arriving at the campground or when they are departing. If you have a rig that is towing a car, the vehicle must be left at the entrance in one of the parking lots. We parked the Silver Fox and have not moved it for the five days that we have stayed here.
The sheltered bus stop is at the entrance to the campground and has the posted bus schedule. The schedules are not exact, because as mentioned before, the buses stop for wildlife and will, if needed, wait out a bear in the road if it is in front of the bus.
There is a small amphitheater that has ranger programs most nights. I have gone to several of the presentations and they have been very informative and I have learned more about Denali National Park.
The campground has two very similar loops of about 25 campsites each. There are 53 sites total at Teklanika. A big rig will fit at least 40% of them. Most are of the back in variety which I have found are easier for a fifth wheel than the park pull throughs. We found it easier to maneuver the rig here than in Savage River Campground. At Savage River Campground, the larger sites are all loops and in a fifth wheel you need to unhitch as straight as possible which is difficult there. Sometimes it is easier to back into the pull through loop as straight as possible and unhitch that way. Running your generator to charge up your batteries is time limited, but you are allowed plenty of time to do so. Many of the sites are open enough for solar panels, but it is hit and miss since it can be overcast here frequently. There is a map of the campground on the ticket that you hang on the campsite post. When you check in the staff reviews the rules and highlights the important items.
There is no cell coverage anywhere close. Since you can’t drive your vehicle it becomes a moot point. There is excellent coverage in the first three miles of the “front country” section that contains the visitor center, book store, restaurant, post office, Wilderness Access Center, and Riley Creek Campground. The Riley Creek Mercantile is where you can check in, dump RVs, and add water. Dump is free is you are camping in one of the campgrounds.
By the way, if I came with a tent and traveled by the camper bus, I would go straight to the Wonder Lake Campground at the end of the park road. The views there of the Alaska Range and Denali are amazing. Your spot will have this range as a view. It is a tent only campground and the only way there is by park bus.
There are short trails from the campground to the Teklanika River gravel bed. This is a braided river like most all of them in the park so it is quite wide and offers long distance views to the mountains to the south. Like the majority of Denali National Park there are no designated trails here. Most of the defined trails are near the entrance. Hikers are encouraged to venture out on their own, making their way through the park.
The huge advantage you are staying here is that you don’t have to purchase a daily bus pass ($40) but only one. So after your first trip you save $40 a day. The second advantage is that at your bus stop you are already an hour into the park. You also get off the bus an hour before most everyone else. Your “Tek Pass” is good on the transit buses the entire time of your visit. Buses run frequently and are easy to catch at the campground entrance. The campground is at mile 29 on the Denali National Park road.