Sled dogs and winter travels by dog team are a large part of the history and tradition of Denali, but they are also an important part of our modern park operations. Our first Superintendent, Harry Karstens, was first and foremost a dog musher. He acquired the park’s first seven sled dogs in 1922 and we’ve been mushing ever since.
According to the Wilderness Act of 1964 Section 4(c) “there shall be no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” Dog teams are a great alternative to motorized transport for many projects in Denali.
NPS Wilderness management policy states that (we will) “Perform any necessary wilderness management work, which should be undertaken only after determining the “minimum requirement,” with the “minimum tool.” The “minimum tool has the least discernible impact on the land.” We are lucky in Denali that one option we have to consider as the “minimum tool” for accessing and accomplishing work in our 2 million acres of designated Wilderness is our sled dog teams. Denali is the only national park with a working sled dog kennel.