Winter Activities

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).

Winter Visitor Center

At Mile 1.4 on the park road is the Murie Science and Learning Center, which acts as Denali's winter visitor center. It is open daily from 9 am - 4:30 pm, except major holidays. At the center, you can watch the park film, "Heartbeats of Denali," talk with a ranger about conditions on park trails, acquire a winter backcountry camping permit, pay the park entrance fee, borrow snowshoes and more.


Winter Trails in Denali

A map of common winter trails in Denali. Note: Trail conditions can vary greatly throughout the winter. Inquire about conditions at the Murie Science and Learning Center.

  • Cross-country skiing is a peaceful and rewarding way to explore Denali, whether on an afternoon trip following sled dog trails, along the Denali Park Road, or on an extended trip into the backcountry.
  • Telemark skiing and snowboarding involve long climbs on foot, but are possible in good snow years. If you plan to travel in areas that present avalanche hazards, please have proper training and equipment. We encourage you to travel with a partner or a group.

Please be prepared for all conditions and call the park with any questions you may have about trail conditions and winter recreation in Denali (907-683-2294 daily, 9 am - 4 pm). Snow cover in Denali can range from excellent to nonexistent and temperatures can range from 40 F to -40 F.

While the park does offer free snowshoe rentals, there are no ski rentals - so be prepared to bring your own equipment to Denali. Fairbanks and Anchorage are the closest areas to buy/rent skis and other gear.

Different lengths of snowshoes serve different purposes. On occasion, you may encounter very deep snow, where long, wide snowshoes are quite effective. Or, you may find yourself traveling along an existing trail, across rougher terrain, or through brushy areas. In these cases, a shorter shoe with an up-turned toe is better for quick traveling.

At Denali, we have a limited number of snowshoes for visitors to borrow. There is no charge to use the shoes. You may check out a pair from the Winter Visitor Center.

Other Activities

A variety of other activities are possible in winter.

  • Mushing and ski-joring
    Visitors who own dogs are welcome to mush or ski-jor in the park.

  • Winter camping
    Hardy souls will find great winter camping opportunities, with the wilderness all to themselves.

  • Snowmobiling
    While certain areas of the park are closed to off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, other areas open when snow cover is sufficient to prevent damage to the underlying tundra.

  • Winterfest Celebration
    Each February, the park and surrounding community celebrate the dominant season with a Winterfest Celebration

  • Aurora watching
    The aurora borealis can be seen from around Denali, though the chances vary depending on solar activity, the length of darkness, and how cloudy the night sky is.

Leave No Trace

The Leave No Trace organization published great guidelines in 2015 for enjoying untrammeled areas in winter while minimizing impacts on the underlying landscape. Learn more about Leave No Trace principles and backcountry snowsports.

Did You Know?