Backcountry Climbing and Mountaineering

a person rock climbing above a vast glacier
With over 1 million acres of glaciers, Denali National Park and Preserve offers an amazing variety of remote climbing and backcountry skiing opportunities which are accessible by ski-equipped aircraft.

While Denali and Mt. Foraker are arguably the most well known peaks in the Alaska Range, this page is dedicated to the countless surrounding peaks and glaciers that offer breathtaking views and unique mountaineering challenges.


Backcountry Registration and Permitting

  • Expeditions attempting Denali or Mt. Foraker
    Climbers on these two peaks are required to register at least 60 days in advance and pay a mountaineering special use fee.
  • Backcountry climbers and skiers flying to other glaciated areas of the Alaska Range
    This includes popular areas such as the Ruth Glacier, Little Switzerland, Mt. Hunter, the Kichatna Spires, Eldridge Glacier, the Ramparts, and many others. Visitors recreating overnight in these areas are not required to register prior to their backcountry trip. Nevertheless, mountaineering rangers and park management highly recommend that all such expeditions complete a voluntary backcountry registration form prior to departure. Trip and contact information contained on these forms has proven extremely helpful in the event of an overdue party or a rescue situation. The backcountry climbing registration form is available electronically.
  • Backcountry climbers and skiers accessing peaks in the Wilderness area of the park, i.e. areas accessed from the park road or headquarters area
    This includes Scott Peak, Mt. Brooks, Mt. Silverthrone and others. All backcountry users in these areas must obtain a permit at the Backcountry Information Center.

Entrance Fees

All backcountry users entering Denali National Park and Preserve are required to pay the park entrance fee. For backcountry users flying into the mountains, entrance fees can be paid at the respective air taxi offices at the time of departure. Denali National Park entrance fees can also be paid electronically at Pay.Gov (Denali NPP Weekly Entrance Pass). Valid America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Passes are accepted in lieu of the entrance fee.

Leave No Trace

  • Removal of human waste is required when camping or travelling within ½ mile of an airstrip. In all other glaciated areas, crevasse human waste using a biodegradable bag or remove it in a Clean Mountain Can (CMC), both of which are available at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station. There is no cost for the use of these cans, however users will be held financially responsible if the cans are not returned after the climb. The current replacement cost is $150.00.
  • Crevasse only human waste. All other trash must be carried off.
  • Efficiently re-package food to reduce trash and overall weight.
  • Everything brought into the park must be brought out. Abandoning surplus gear, food, fuel, or wands is not allowed.
  • Fixed lines and protection should be removed on descent.
  • Caches must be properly labeled with the expedition name and return date. Permanent caches are illegal. Mark caches with 5 to 6 foot (1.5-2M) wands.
  • Bury caches at least 1 meter deep to prevent raiding by ravens.
  • Avoid feeding wildlife. Inspect campsites for spilled food and pack out food waste.
  • Leave what you find. It is illegal to remove natural objects from the park.
  • All caches belonging to other parties should be left intact. Please report all abandoned or unmarked caches to NPS rangers.

Trip Planning

The ranger station offers an extensive climbing library, including binders containing route descriptions and photographs, topographic maps, American Alpine Journals, and hard-to-find books.

Alaska Range patrol reports and route photos can also now be found in the Denali Dispatches blog. Scroll through post titles for patrol reports for areas such as Mt. Dan Beard, the Sultana Ridge of Mount Foraker, etc.

An increasing number of books detailing routes and general climbing areas in the Alaska Range are available for purchase at the ranger station through Alaska Geographic. The Recommended Reading List includes many mountaineering-related titles available though Alaska Geographic and other booksellers.

While generally intended for climbers attempting Denali, the four-page Expedition Planning Tools section of this website offers useful information regarding gear choices, pertinent medical issues, and general tips for climbing in the Alaska Range. Click here for a list of air taxi operators authorized to make glacier landings in the park.

Mountaineering rangers with first hand experience in the various backcountry areas of Denali National Park and Preserve are available year-round to assist visitors with trip planning and route selection. Contact us via email or phone (907) 733-2231 for more detailed information.

Last updated: November 7, 2022

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Contact Info

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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