Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
The seventh annual Winterfest Celebration is taking place at Denali National Park and Preserve and its neighboring communities beginning Thursday, February 22 to Sunday, February 25. The celebration showcases the area’s longest season with a wide range of activities that provide opportunities to safely enjoy winter, sample the amenities the area has to offer, and have fun! The long weekend festival offers a variety of events for all ages and skill levels, including dog sled rides, cross-country skiing, snow sculpting, dog fur spinning, avalanche safety, snow shelter building, presentations on Denali’s history and dinosaur track discoveries, snowshoe walks, winter bicycling, track finding, children’s craft activities, story-telling, cross-country skiing, science-based educational activities, and more!
A special addition to this year’s Winterfest is an early celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of Denali National Park and Preserve! The National Park Service invites the public to help it celebrate this auspicious anniversary at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 24 at the Wilderness Access Center, located at Mile 0.6 on the Denali Park Road. Superintendent Paul Anderson will be on hand to welcome Winterfest participants, and a birthday cake will be served. This informal event is the first in a series of special activities being planned for the remainder of the year. The legislation creating the original Mount McKinley National Park was signed into law on February 26, 1917.
The Winterfest activities begin on Thursday, February 22 with an art showcase at the Tri-Valley Community Library from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. and evening basketball games between Healy and Nenana. The Friday, February 23 day programs include master ice carver Larry Moen creating a masterpiece in ice at the Tri-Valley Community Center and a variety show at the Tri-Valley School.
Friday evening activities commence at 6:00 p.m. with an edible art contest and potluck at the McKinley Village Community Center. The food will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by an illustrated program on “The Life and Legacy of Bradford Washburn” presented by Dr. Mike Sfraga from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Washburn, who passed away in January 2007 at age 96, was the premier American field scientist, educator, geographer and cartographer of the 20th century. The Community Center is located about one-half mile from the Parks Highway at the Mile 230 turnoff.
A wide variety of events (some indoors, most outdoors) take place on Saturday, February 24 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at or near the Wilderness Access Center. The complete schedule of activities is posted on the park website at www.nps.gov/dena and on community bulletin boards. Hot drinks and refreshments will be provided, and a selection of park-related publications will be available for sale. The water system at the Wilderness Access Center is turned off for the winter, but heated chemical toilets are available for use.
Additional Saturday events include snow bowling and a women’s hockey match at the Healy ice rink. The free chili and cornbread dinner takes place from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. inside the Tri-Valley Community Center. The evening is capped off with dancing to live music provided by local bands Loose Gravel, Swing Dawgs, and others! The Community Center is located at Mile 0.5 on the Usibelli Spur Road (Mile 248.8 Parks Highway) in Healy.
Two short films depicting Denali’s cultural and natural history, “Heartbeats of Denali’ and “Across Time and Tundra”, will be shown throughout the Winterfest weekend at the Murie Science and Learning Center. The Center functions as the park’s winter visitor center and is open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily.
Meals, lodging and other services are available year-round in the communities of Healy and Cantwell. Free camping is available at the park’s Riley Creek Campground, with no running water. A vault toilet is provided for winter campers and water can be obtained at the Murie Science and Learning Center.
Winterfest is a community-wide event made possible by the assistance and contributions of the Alaska Natural History Association, Denali Borough, Denali Borough School District, Denali Education Center, Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture, National Park Service and the University of Alaska Outdoor Adventures. For additional Winterfest information or to receive a schedule, call the Murie Science and Learning Center at (907) 683-9532 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily.
Last updated: April 14, 2015