Denali's backpacking permit system is based on the backcountry units described below. Additionally, we suggest you carefully read our step-by-step guide to planning your backpacking trip before you arrive.
Explanation of Backcountry Units
The six million acres of Denali are divided into 87 separate backcountry units, and each unit is thousands of acres in size. Forty-two units have a quota on the number of individuals who may camp there each night. For example, if a quota is 8, there could be 8 solo backpackers, or 4 groups of 2 people, etc. Your backcountry permit will specify the unit in which your party must camp, but you may travel through other units to get there. "Double-booking" a single night in two different units or a unit and a campground is not allowed. All party members must attend a backcountry orientation at the Backcountry Information Center prior to receiving a permit.
Note: Permits are not required for day hiking in the backcountry.
Using the Backcountry Unit Map to Plan Your Adventure
The map below displays backcountry units and closures on USGS topographic maps. Click on the map to link to a page dedicated to each unit, including a general description with pictures detailing important features like river crossings, glaciers, and areas of significant brush. Active closures (areas hikers may not enter) are marked in red. These are usually due to a wildlife nest or den, or are temporarily put into place when a bear or wolf kills an animal.
We suggest you spend some time sketching out a few possible routes based on your group's skills and interests, and also on the availability in the table below the map. Units may only be reserved in person at the Backcountry Information Center, no more than one day prior to the start of the trip, so it is helpful to have a few different ideas in mind.
Other Helpful Resources
Backcountry AvailabilityFollow the links in the Backcountry Unit column of the table below to read up on each backcountry unit.
Last updated: June 10, 2023