Winter Activities

Denali is not closed in winter!

Winter is an amazing and powerful season in Denali. For much of the year, Denali's landscape is blanketed in snow, its rivers and lakes locked in thick ice, its animals in hibernation, long-since migrated, or making the best existence they can in temperatures that routinely reach -40 F (-40 C).

Though the Denali Park Road typically closes at Mile 3 for several months, there is plenty to do.


Winter Visitor Center


At Mile 1.4 on the park road is the Murie Science and Learning Center, which acts as Denali's winter visitor center. It is open daily from 9 am - 4:30 pm, except major holidays. At the center, you can watch the park film, "Heartbeats of Denali," talk with a ranger about conditions on park trails, acquire a winter backcountry camping permit, pay the park entrance fee, borrow snowshoes and more.

 

Skiing, Winter Biking, Snowshoeing

Cross-country skiing, winter biking and snowshoeing are peaceful and rewarding ways to explore Denali, whether for an afternoon or a multi-day trip following sled dog trails or along the Denali Park Road.

Telemark skiing and snowboarding involve long climbs on foot, but are possible in good snow years. If you plan to travel in areas that present avalanche hazards, please have proper training and equipment. We encourage you to travel with a partner or a group.

A map of winter trails can be found lower on this page.

Conditions

Please be prepared for all conditions and call the park with any questions you may have about trail conditions and winter recreation in Denali (907-683-2294 daily, 9 am - 4 pm). Snow cover in Denali can range from excellent to nonexistent and temperatures can range from 40 F to -40 F in the winter.

Equipment

The park offers free snowshoe rentals from the winter visitor center.

There are no ski or bike rentals, so be prepared to bring your own equipment to Denali. Fairbanks and Anchorage are the closest areas to buy/rent skis, bikes and other gear.

 
 

Frontcountry Trails

A number of summer-time trails also make for great winter travel. There are also some good off-trail winter routes close to the winter visitor center.

The map below color-codes trails to indicate their relative difficulty.

  • Green trails are typically the easiest, and are suitable for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking.
  • Blue routes tend to be steeper, and may not be good for novice xc skiiers.
  • Black lines are very steep trails, and/or trails that are exposed and tend to be snow-free most of the winter. These are best hiked, either in snowshoes or with some kind of grippy device attached to your boot.
  • Yellow lines are off-trail routes commonly used by visitors. Conditions can vary wildly, and these trails are not groomed (e.g., so they are often obscured after fresh snow, until people have begun using them again).

This map does not update with current conditions. Please stop by the winter visitor center or contact us in advance to learn about conditions on these trails.

 

Winter Trails: Denali's Entrance Area

A map of common winter trails in Denali. Trails are color-coded to indicate subjective difficulty (easier to harder: green, blue, black). Yellow lines are backcountry trails, meaning they are unmarked. Trail conditions can vary greatly throughout the winter. Inquire about conditions at the winter visitor center.
 

Backcountry Trail Conditions


Check out the latest winter trail conditions with the map below.

Until it snows enough to make winter travel possible, this map will not have current conditions information. Instead, it will have blue lines that indicate common trail routes.

Once snow falls, and rangers travel various trails, updates will display on this map. Trails will be color-coded to indicate relative difficulty. There will also be icons that indicate where the park sled dogs have recently travelled.

Unlike some public lands, Denali does not groom trails with snowcats or snowmachines. Much of the park is designated as federal Wilderness by Congress, wherein motorized vehicles are prohibited. So instead of machines, the sled dogs break recreational trails open for winter visitors to ski, mush, hike, bike, etc.

 

Denali Sled Dogs & Winter Trails

Track the movements of the Denali sled dogs in winter as they patrol the wilderness of the park. Common routes are shown on the map. Red routes are unbroken and/or hazardous. Orange and yellow trails are routes our teams have traveled in the past two weeks. Orange indicates a number of hazards exist. Yellow indicates only minor hazards or difficulties should be expected.
 

Leave No Trace

The Leave No Trace organization published great guidelines in 2015 for enjoying untrammeled areas in winter while minimizing impacts on the underlying landscape. Learn more about Leave No Trace principles and backcountry snowsports.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755

Phone:

(907) 683-9532
General park information. The phone is answered 9 am - 4 pm daily, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message with your number and we'll call you back as soon as we finish helping the visitor on the line ahead of you.

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