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About the Volunteer Program at Denali

Each year, volunteers contribute more than 60,000 hours to Denali National Park and Preserve. Retired couples, individuals, school groups, scouts, clubs and organizations - people just like you - donate their time and efforts to provide essential services at Denali's visitor centers, offices, kennel operations, campgrounds and even on the majestic slopes of North America's highest mountain. Our volunteers also contribute long hours constructing trails, eradicating invasive plants, gathering native seeds and assisting park researchers with a variety of projects.

More than 500 people annually make the time to give something back to this American treasure in Alaska. Depending on the opportunity, volunteers may donate several months at a time or perhaps a few hours. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, please read further.

During the summer months, housing within the park is limited. We have dedicated trailer pads with hook-ups in the headquarters area, and one trailer pad at Wonder Lake Campground.

If experiencing Denali in the winter interests you, we have lots of housing and projects to keep a person busy. The "off" season is a great time for us to organize and prepare for the busy summer.

five people standing in the backcountry holding paper bags

Volunteer Event: Need for Seed - Saturday, August 3

Native Seed Collection

Help harvest and dry native seeds while learning about Denali’s native plants and restoration projects in the park.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy a day in the park while learning about native plants and seeds and their role in preserving the park’s ecosystem.

Park staff will set up several work areas so volunteers can choose where they would like to work in the park's "front country." Volunteers should expect to walk anywhere from a few hundred feet to up one or two miles over mostly flat terrain collecting native seeds.

No special skills or tools are required; volunteers will receive instructions how to identify the plants from which they will collect seeds. Volunteers who do not mind getting their hands dirty and who want to help maintain a part of this special place are encouraged to participate in Need for Seed.

Two hands, right hand holding red-handled scissors, left hand holding plant with brown stalks and seeds, cutting stalk below the cluster of seeds.
A volunteer collects Oxytropis campestris (Milk Vetch) seeds.

NPS photo

  • Who: You and your friends/family. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • What: Hands-on conservation work.
  • Bring: water, snacks, lunch, hiking boots, rain gear and clothing layers. Safety gear and tools will be provided.
  • When: Saturday, August 3, at 9 a.m. The work day will conclude by 1 pm.
  • Where: Meet in the upper automobile parking lot at the Denali Visitor Center, look for park staff in uniform.
Overnight accommodations, like a hut or campsite, may be available to those who need them. Please make arrangements in advance by contacting the Volunteer Office.

Every volunteer will receive a thank-you gift and each adult will receive a voucher for a transit bus ride in the park (you choose the date, includes park entrance fee).

For more information or to reserve overnight accommodations contact the Volunteer Office at 907-683-9504.
a brown bear sitting on a hillside
"Won't you scoop my poop?"—This bear, probably.

NPS Photo

Citizen Science: Collecting Bear Poop in Denali (Ongoing)

Are you going hiking or backpacking in the backcountry during your visit to Denali?

Would you like to know how many bears are in the backcountry unit that you’re going hiking in? We would too, and you can help us figure that out by signing up to be one of Denali’s citizen bear scientists!

The wildlife team at Denali is studying the grizzly bear population in the park, and you can help. Using modern genetic techniques and a team of grizzly bear citizen scientists, we are collecting DNA samples (bear scat) across the backcountry of Denali National Park.

These samples will be analyzed and used to estimate current grizzly bear densities and population characteristics in places that backcountry users frequent.

What will DNA From Scat Tell Us?

  • Species and sex of the bear

  • Genealogy, who’s related to whom

  • Home range of the bear

  • Bear population density

How You Can Help

  1. Download, install, and register the Grizzly Scat App before you go out in the backcountry. (Note: You can still participate even if you don't have a smartphone, or don't want to install an app—see the FAQs below for more details).
  2. Pick up a sample collection kit at the Backcountry Information Desk at the Denali Visitor Center (open 8 am–6 pm daily in summer)
  3. Use the kit and the app to collect small samples of bear scat while you’re out hiking. The kit comes with simple instructions.
  4. Return the kit before you leave the park to the Backcountry Information Desk.

What do you get out of it?

  • The opportunity to participate in and contribute meaningful data to a ground-breaking grizzly bear study.

  • Information about the bears you sample! Using the app, you will be notified when your sample is sent to the lab. Once it is analyzed you’ll know if the bear from which your sample came was a male or female, and if it was related to other bears in the area.

  • You’ll also get a pretty nifty Denali Grizzly Bear DNA Team sticker.

  • And of course… bragging rights!

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely! You won’t get the results from the samples that you collect, but you will still get the sticker and the bragging rights.

We provide protective gloves, and specially designed sampling sticks in the sample collection kits, so you don’t actually touch the scat. Bear scat generally doesn’t smell because it’s mostly comprised of berries at this time of year.

The sample kits are fairly small. It will take up about the same amount of space as an extra pair of socks, and they’re about the same weight.

You can pick up kits at the Backcountry Information Desk in the Denali Visitor Center. If you call (907-683-9574) ahead of time, we can also try to meet you at your camper bus with a kit, in case you forget to pick one up at the visitor center but still want to participate.
You can return your kit to the same place you got it, at the Backcountry Information Desk. If you arrive after 6 pm, use the kit return box (located on top of the after-hours bear resistant food container (BRFC) return), outside the main doors of the Denali Visitor Center

If you have other questions, you can email our wildlife technicians or call (907) 683-9574.


Volunteer Positions

When full or part-time volunteer positions are available, they will appear below.

Last updated: July 16, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am—4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to 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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