Backcountry Climbing and Mountaineering
With over 1 million acres of glaciers, Denali National Park and Preserve offers an amazing variety of remote climbing and backcountry skiing opportunities which are accessible by ski-equipped aircraft. While Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker are arguably the most well known peaks in the Alaska Range, this page is dedicated to the countless surrounding peaks and glaciers that offer breathtaking views and unique mountaineering challenges.
Backcountry Registration and Permitting
Expeditions attempting Mt. McKinley or Mt. Foraker: Climbers on these two peaks are required to register at least 60 days in advance and pay a mountaineering special use fee.
Backcountry climbers and skiers flying to other glaciated areas of the Alaska Range: Includes popular areas such as the Ruth Glacier, Little Switzerland, Mt. Hunter, the Kichatna Spires, Eldridge Glacier, the Ramparts, and many others. Visitors recreating overnight in these areas are not required to register prior to their backcountry trip. Nevertheless, mountaineering rangers and park management highly recommend that all such expeditions complete a voluntary backcountry registration form prior to departure. Trip and contact information contained on these forms has proven extremely helpful in the event of an overdue party or a rescue situation. The backcountry climbing registration form is available electronically, but the form can be completed in person when the group arrives at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station to pay their park entrance fee.
Backcountry climbers and skiers accessing peaks in the Wilderness area of the park, i.e. areas accessed from the park road or headquarters area: Includes Scott Peak, Mt. Brooks, Mt. Silverthrone and others. All backcountry users in these areas must obtain a permit at the Backcountry Information Center.
All backcountry users entering Denali National Park and Preserve are required to pay the park entrance fee. For visitors flying into the mountains, entrance fees are paid at the ranger station in Talkeetna or, if necessary, at the respective air taxi offices. Valid America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Passes are accepted in lieu of the entrance fee, and are available for purchase at the ranger station.
Leave No Trace
The ranger station offers an extensive climbing library, including binders containing route descriptions and photographs, topographic maps, American Alpine Journals, and hard-to-find books. A photocopier is available to the public for copying non-copyrighted material.
Alaska Range patrol reports and route photos can also now be found in the Denali Dispatches blog. Scroll through post titles for patrol reports for areas such as Mt. Dan Beard, the Sultana Ridge of Mount Foraker, etc.
An increasing number of books detailing routes and general climbing areas in the Alaska Range are available for purchase at the ranger station through Alaska Geographic. The Recommended Reading List includes many mountaineering-related titles available though Alaska Geographic and other booksellers.
While generally intended for climbers attempting Mount McKinley, the four-page Expedition Planning Tools section of this website offers useful information regarding gear choices, pertinent medical issues, and general tips for climbing in the Alaska Range.
Mountaineering rangers with first hand experience in the various backcountry areas of Denali National Park and Preserve are available year-round to assist visitors with trip planning and route selection. Contact us via email or phone (907) 733-2231 for more detailed information.