Common misconception: Denali is not closed in winter!
Winter is an amazing and powerful season in Denali. For much of the year, Denali's landscape is blanketed in snow, its rivers and lakes locked in thick ice, its animals in hibernation, long-since migrated, or making the best existence they can in temperatures that routinely reach -40 F (-40 C). On clear nights, you might see the aurora borealis. Winter camping is also possible for hardy souls.
Winter is outside the "normal" season for travelers, but that perhaps increases the rewards of a visit. Some areas open for snowmachine use, though in general, vehicle access into the park is limited, compared to the summer season. However, for someone seeking natural beauty, tranquility, and a challenge, winter in Denali can be a wonderful time.
Snow can begin accumulating as early as mid-September or as late as November. Snow and ice typically stick around through April, although an usually mild or harsh winter can make exact thaw and ice breakup unpredictable. Cross country skiing can be fantastic in March and early (sometimes even late!) April. Mushing conditions can vary, but the park kennels begin setting trails as soon as possible in early winter.
Did You Know?
Mount McKinley, located within Denali National Park and Preserve, is the highest mountain on the North American continent. Measured from the 2,000 foot lowlands to its snowy summit at 20,320 feet, the mountain’s vertical relief of 18,000 feet is greater than that of Mount Everest.