Runnin' with the Kennels

About This Blog

Sled dogs have held an essential role in the life and culture of Alaska for thousands of years. In Denali – the only national park in America with a working sled dog kennel – they now perform essential wintertime duties in a vast expanse of designated Wilderness area. Follow this blog for updates on their ongoing adventures, and accomplishments.

Meet the

September 27, 2018 Posted by: Jennifer Raffaeli, Kennels Manager

We asked students from seven schools (across Alaska to suggest names for each of our seven pups. The students did an amazing job interviewing elders and community members, writing letters, making videos, sharing photos and brainstorming fantastic lists of names with great stories behind them.


Pupdate 2018!

July 25, 2018 Posted by: Jennifer Raffaeli, Kennels Manager

We know that many of you have been anxiously awaiting news of this summer's litter of pups. For those who haven't heard the answer in person from one of our kennels rangers, here is the status for this summer.


Why the Denali National Park and Preserve Kennels Have a Breeding Program

July 13, 2018 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli, Kennels Manager

The Denali National Park and Preserve Kennels has a long and storied history that is intricately connected to the history of the Park itself. Maintaining a kennel of dogs able to thrive in harsh, sub-arctic conditions means we must have a very well-planned breeding program.


What to Expect When a Sled Dog is Expecting

August 21, 2017 Posted by: Jessica Millman, Kennels Volunteer

Once a year, the kennel’s staff waits in anticipation for the newest sled dog recruits to be born. Although there is a lot of excitement and eagerness to meet the puppies, there are also a lot of sled dog pregnancy factors to monitor as we wait.


Winter 2016-17 Projects: A-Chill and Effie Kokrine

May 12, 2017 Posted by: Julie Carpenter

Another winter season has come to a close at the kennels as our favorite star resumes its reign over the land of midnight sun and the spongey ground soaks up what’s left of the trails. This post summarizes some of the major projects and achievements over the winter of 2016/17.


The Puppies are Learning to Run with the Big Dogs!

January 29, 2017 Posted by: Jan

The puppies grow bigger and stronger, and learn to run with the big dogs (and explore the dogsled!).


Dog Yard Basics

July 22, 2016 Posted by: Dre Langefeld

Ever wonder why the dog houses are set up the way they are? We explain the logic between the different types of house styles and announce the opening of the free run pen.


Trick or Treat? More Like Trick and Treat

June 23, 2016 Posted by: Dre Langefeld

Alaskan Huskies are working dogs and they love the challenge of problem solving and route finding on the trail in winter. In the summer, while it is too hot to for long runs they really enjoy the mental challenge of working with us to problem solve and learn new training exercises.


Toklat Cleanup 2016

February 08, 2016 Posted by: Kristin Gates

On the kennels' recent Toklat River cleanup trip where the kennels dogs and staff helped keep their park clean by hauling out 500 pounds of debris


Pupdate #4: Sanctuary, Learning to Run, and One Chubby Puppy

January 02, 2016 Posted by: Kristin Gates, Jen Raffaeli

Update on the six puppies (Disco, S'more, Solace, Summit, Venture, Vista) born in May 2015 and how they are preparing to run with the big dogs.


Pupdate #3

December 16, 2015 Posted by: Kristin Gates

Update on Disco, Solace, Vista, Venture, S'more and Summit (the six puppies born in May) and their progress on their first backcountry operation


New Wheels at the Kennels

November 20, 2015 Posted by: Kristin Gates

The kennels has new non motorized carts for our fall training season. Learn more about them here.


Learning About Dog Behavior

August 19, 2015 Posted by: Lori Young

In this post, we highlight how to speak sled dog by reading the body language of our Canine Rangers.


Inspiring the Next Generation

August 06, 2015 Posted by: Marinell Chandler

Student Conservation Association NPS Academy intern Garron and Youth Conservation Corps Alina talk about their experiences at the kennels and the many ways youth can help protect this nation’s beautiful places.


Pupdate #2, 2015

July 31, 2015 Posted by: Jennifer Raffaeli

The kennels gives an update on Rupee's litter of puppies who are growing up fast: Where they are now and what they're doing as they continue to learn about life as sled dogs.


What’s in a Name? NPS Centennial

June 24, 2015 Posted by: Marinell Chandler

In the 2nd Pupdate of the summer, we discuss the NPS centennial, how our new litter of pups was named, and what they’re up to now as they continue to grow.


Pupdate #1 2015

May 29, 2015 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli

An update on last summer's puppy Zahnie and his winter adventures, new dogs that joined our kennel over the winter, and information on this summer's litter of puppies born in May.


Denali Dog Teams

February 04, 2015 Posted by: Andrea Schneider

In January the dog teams and kennels staff set out to complete two hauling projects that were the result of a dedicated effort by many Denali NPS staff and volunteers last summer.


Training Trip

February 04, 2015 Posted by: Kelly Bell

We've talked about how we train our dogs, but you might be wondering how we train our human staff for their winter work on the trail. This was written by one of our winter kennels VIPs after our all staff training trip at the end of November.


All About Puppy Training

August 04, 2014 Posted by: Julie Carpenter

How we train our puppies to be Canine Rangers of Denali.


What's next for Wilderness?

June 12, 2014 Posted by: J. Raffaeli

Some reflections on our special partnership patrol to clean up abandoned barrels in the designated Wilderness area around May Lake in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.


Wilderness Through the Eyes of a Student Conservation Association (SCA) Intern

May 20, 2014 Posted by: Marinell Chandler

SCA intern Marinell shares her first impressions of Denali and the significance of our sled dogs in making visitor connections and protecting wildlife and wilderness for future generations.


Working Together for Wilderness in Gates of the Arctic

March 10, 2014 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli

Kennels staff and canine rangers leave Denali for an oil barrel haul and Wilderness Act outreach in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.


A Few Degrees of Separation

February 09, 2014 Posted by: Patty Del Vecchio

In a warm January that created challenging mushing conditions, we reflect how global climate change is incorporated into the definition of wilderness.


Searching for Scat

January 15, 2014 Posted by: Jamie Dittmar and Julie Carpenter

One of the kennels main projects this winter is providing assistance collecting scat samples for a study of mesocarnivores in the park.


Happy 50th Anniversary Wilderness

December 22, 2013 Posted by: Jayme Dittmar

The Denali Kennels is dedicating all blogs this winter to the Wilderness Act to celebrate it's 50th Anniversary.


Tradition, Tenons, and Drills... oh my!

November 10, 2013 Posted by: Lauren Gomes

On Nov.1, 2013 sled builder Matt Emslie trained the kennels staff in the art of traditional basket sled building. He helped us replace a very worn set of runners on the summer demo sled that he built for us a few years ago.


More Than the Leash

September 11, 2013 Posted by: Jayme Dittmar

The tie between volunteer dog walker and canine ranger extends far beyond the leash that physically connects them.


The Personalities Behind the Cute

July 18, 2013 Posted by: Jayme Dittmar

Prusik, Munter and Clove just finished their puppy testing to help us determine their abilities and training strategies we can use to prepare them for the trail.


Summer 2013 Pupdate

June 19, 2013 Posted by: J.Raffaeli

The story behind this year's litter of pups. How the breeding was chosen.


Winter Wrap Up

June 11, 2013 Posted by: J. Raffaeli

A look back at a few of the projects the kennels dogs assisted with this winter.


Retiring Dogs and the Adoption Process

February 05, 2013 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli

After many years of dedicated service, our NPS canine rangers deserve a wonderful retirement just like our human rangers.


The Toklat Narrows

February 05, 2013 Posted by: S.Hayes

Kennels staff hauls supplies along the North boundary, travel the Toklat Narrows, and Tephra earns a gold star for her performance in lead.


Zen and the Art of the Gee Pole

December 12, 2012 Posted by: Jess Toubman

A more in depth look at our recent training in how to use the traditional gee pole to steer a heavy sled.


Being your Best: How We Train our Canine Athletes

November 26, 2012 Posted by: Corrie Lane

What goes into training a Denali sled dog?  We discuss the different aspects of training and maintaining a working sled dog including mental and physical training as well as nutrition and health.


The Scoop on Poop

August 26, 2012 Posted by: Julie Carpenter



The Perfect Puppy

August 23, 2012 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli

This blog was written to supplement the Puppy Paws Episode 4 video. If you haven't seen the Puppy Paws videos you can watch them on the kennels page at Read on if you are curious to know more about what traits, both physical and mental, we are looking for in our puppies.


The Dogs Days of Summer

August 03, 2012 Posted by: Bryan Marshall, Kennels SCA

This week, we take you behind the scenes of one of Denali's most popular Ranger programs, the summer sled dog demonstration.  Enjoy this sneak peak and perhaps you will get a first hand view of the action at some point this summer.  It happens three times a day during peak season and you can find out more at


Pupdate - Tatum, Carpe, Koven and Cache

June 05, 2012 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli

An update on last summer's puppies - Tatum, Carpe, Koven and Cache.


Animals Wild and Domestic Define Denali's Winter Wilderness

March 22, 2012 Posted by: Jenn Raffaeli



Helicopter or Huskies? The Triple Lake Trail Haul

January 27, 2012 Posted by: Matt King and Jess Toubman



Sometimes Dog Mushing can be a Drag

January 24, 2012 Posted by: Michael Raffaeli



The gift of breaking trail

January 07, 2012 Posted by: Jenn Raffaeli



Experiments in Insulation

December 30, 2011 Posted by: Sarah Hayes



Let the patrols begin(and the hard work continue)!

December 22, 2011 Posted by: Michael Raffaeli



Falling in and out of Fall at the Kennels

December 02, 2011 Posted by: Jessica Toubman



Cabin Stocking

November 13, 2011 Posted by: Jenn Raffaeli



What is the "Dog Box"?

November 07, 2011 Posted by: Alex Lindeman



How Quickly They Grow Up

August 23, 2011 Posted by: Jenn Raffaeli



How Pingo's Puppies Came To Be

August 15, 2011 Posted by: Kristin Knight



A Special Project

April 06, 2011 Posted by: Michael Raffaeli



Springtime in Alaska

April 06, 2011 Posted by: Jenn Raffaeli



Wind, Whiteouts, and Wonder...or not

March 20, 2011 Posted by: Kristin Knight



100 Degrees of Separation

February 20, 2011 Posted by: Michael Raffaeli



A Silent Appreciation

February 06, 2011 Posted by: Kristin Knight



Sled Dogs and Iron Dogs

January 14, 2011 Posted by: Jenn Raffaeli



The Right Dogs for the Trail

January 04, 2011 Posted by: Kristin Knight



On dogs and trail-breaking

December 29, 2010 Posted by: Kristin Knight



Reading Ice

December 20, 2010 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli



Days on the Trail

December 18, 2010 Posted by: Jen Raffaeli



Breaking Trail to Mile 28

December 12, 2010 Posted by: Jessica Toubman



A mattress-hauling adventure

December 09, 2010 Posted by: Kristin Knight



First Night Out of the Season

December 07, 2010 Posted by: Michael Raffaeli



Every Winter Lover's Nightmare

December 07, 2010 Posted by: Michael Raffaeli



Just another day at the office

November 21, 2010 Posted by: Kristin Knight



And We're Off!

November 15, 2010 Posted by: Kristin Knight



Waiting for snow to fall

November 07, 2010 Posted by: Kristin Knight



The Next Generation

May 11, 2012 Posted by: Jennifer Raffaeli

Well, last summer’s pups are nearly grown up. Not really, but in many ways it feels like it. They are not quite full sized adult dogs yet, but they have outgrown their fluffy puppy bodies and are acting more and more like grown up sled dogs. They are excellent skijorers and joined the team with the big dogs pulling the sled on patrols. So what is next? It is time to think about the next generation.


Last updated: January 27, 2024

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


907 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am to 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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