• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain


    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Winter Activities

image of a sundog - bright flares reflect points of light far to the right and left of the sun
A sundog can be seen anywhere in the world, but they are most common during very cold weather - something Alaska in winter has in abundance. Ice crystals low in the air catch sunlight, typically when the sun is low in the sky.
nps photo / dan irelan
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?

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