Denali Winterfest

Updates for the 2017 Winterfest Celebration will be posted in fall or early winter. The info below, for the 2016 edition of Winterfest, will stay here until then as an indication of what events past festivels have included.

The 16th-annual Denali Winterfest will take place Thursday, Feb 25 through Sunday, Feb 28, 2016, with a day of free events in Denali National Park & Preserve on Saturday, Feb 27.

Denali Winterfest is organized and supported by the National Park Service, Denali Borough and Denali Borough School District, Denali Education Center, Doyon/Aramark Joint Venture, and additional community organizations.

Events are listed in detail, lower on this page.


Wednesday, February 24

Location: 229 Parks Restaurant (Mile 229, Highway 3)
Time: 7 pm (doors open at 6 pm)

Join a performance by Dublin Guitar Quartet, with appetizers and desserts. $50 tickets may be bought in advance at or by emailing Kris Capps.

Thursday, February 25
Location: Murie Science and Learning Center (Mile 1.5, Denali Park Road)
Time: 6 pm - 8 pm

Art Night at the Murie Science and Learning Center! Experiment with unusual painting techniques and come away with a personal creation that celebrates our natural surroundings. Sign up in advance by emailing Cinnamon Dockham - limited to the first 20 registrants.

Friday, February 26
Location: McKinley Park Community Center (Mile 230, Highway 3)

Time: 6 pm

Attend the Winterfest Weekend Kick-Off, featuring a homebrew and appetizer competition, potluck and social event with live music. Bring something to share and come celebrate community and winter! Presented by the Denali Education Center.

Saturday, February 27
Locations and times vary. Events are grouped below into a general location (e.g., areas near the Murie Science and Learning Center, farther in the park, or in Healy), and then events are listed chronologically (by starting time). While kids are welcome at all events, those with a particular emphasis on children and families are called out with a note that they are family-friendly.

Location: Murie Science and Learning Center

Time: 9 am - 4:30 pm

All-day activities at the Murie Center include:
  • Park science exhibits and children's play area
  • Alaska Geographic bookstore
  • Exhibit of works by Denali's Artists-in-Residence
  • Ice grippers and snowshoes available to borrow for free
  • Park information, backcountry camping permits and films.

Time: 10 am - 2 pm
Youth Cross-Country Ski Race: Join local ski club members and instructors for a skate ski race (ages 8 - 16) on a 0.8 km track. There will also be a fun classic ski (all ages welcome) over beginner-level trails (~ 3-5 km).

Time: 10 am - 3 pm
Snow Sculpting Contest! Sign up for a snow block and pick up sculpting tools at the Murie Center. Judging begins at 3 pm. This is one of many family-friendly events!

Time: 10 am - 4 pm
  • Ice Carving: Watch local ice carver Larry Moen create a frozen masterpiece outside the Murie Center. Presented with support from Alaska Geographic.
  • "The HIdden World of Permafrost": Learn about the hidden world of permafrost and ancient animals of Alaska through interactive exhibits. Presented by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Permafrost Outreach Team.
  • Augmented Reality Sandbox: Explore landforms and hydrology while learning about topographic map lines as you create mountains, lakes, and streams. Presented by the Alaska Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the UAF Geographic Information Network of Alaska.
  • Winterfest Quest: Go on a self-guided scavenger hunt to learn about Denali in winter. Be prepared to walk on snowy trails. More information at the Murie Center front desk.
Time: 11 am - 12 pm
  • "Wilderness Adventures in Glacier Monitoring": A slideshow and presentation by Rob Burrows.
  • Kid's Centennial Celebration: Kids, us in the Murie Center and celebrate the 100-year birthday of the national parks. Learn what a national park is, why we have them, and what each of us can do to protect them. Kids will get to make their own national park snow globe to take home! This is a family-friendly event.

Time: 11 am - 3 pm
Snacks, light lunch and refreshments provided by Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture

Time: 11:30 am - 2 pm
Dog sled rides! Take a short ride with a local musher's team. Note: This will occur at the Caribou Loop of Riley Creek Campground, not the Murie Science and Learning Center. Presented with support from Alaska Geographic.

Time: 12 pm - 1:30 pm
  • Campfire. Warm up by the fire outside of the Murie Center.
  • Life on the Mountain. A mountaineering ranger from the Talkeetna Ranger Station will demonstrate mountaineering life and skills. Look for the campsite outside the Murie Center!
Time: 12:15 pm - 1 pm
Birch Trees to Birch Baskets. Join us in the Murie Center to learn about the amazing traditional uses for birch trees and have fun creating your very own "birch basket." This is a family-friendly event!

Time: 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Denali's "Human Hundred" Centennial Challenge Kick-Off! Meet at the Headquarters Flagpole (Mile 3, Denali Park Road), rather than the Murie Center. This guided ski event is of intermediate difficulty. Skiers will shuttle to a starting location on the park road and ski back to Headquarters. Please arrive promptly at Headquarters at 12:30 to join the shuttle. Note: This activity is dependent on safe snow conditions - check at the Murie Center desk or call 683-9532 for status.

Time: 1 pm - 2 pm
"Changes Afoot for Denali: A Mountain by Any Other Name Would Be Just as Tall (Or Would It?)": Join this slideshow and presentation by Britta Schroeder, Denali's GIS Specialist.

Time: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Ranger-led Snowshoe Walk. Join a ranger to explore Denali in winter. Snowshoes are available for free checkout at the Murie Center. This is a family-friendly event!

Location: Mountain Vista Rest Area (Mile 12.5, Denali Park Road)

Time: 1 pm - 4 pm

Warm Up at Savage Cabin: Visit with park rangers and kennels staff at the historic Upper Savage River ranger patrol cabin and enjoy a campfire, hot drinks and s'mores. Follow signs from the rest area - it's about a quarter-mile walk.

Time: 8:30 pm
Stargazing Party! If it's a clear night, join us at the Mountain Vista Rest Area to look for constellations, planets and the northern lights. Dress warmly and bring binoculars and a head lamp if you have them.

Location: Tri-Valley Community Center (Mile 0.5, Healy Spur Road)

Time: 10 am - 9 pm

Support your local team, the Healy Coal Queens, as they play a series of games all day at the ice rink. Fireworks will follow, at 9 pm.

Time: 5 pm - 7 pm
Dinner events are presented and supported by the Denali Borough, Tri-Valley School, Kids in Motion dance troupe, Denali Preschool and Learning Center, Holland America-Princess, and Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture. Events include:

  • 5 pm - 7 pm: Chili and hot dog dinner
  • 6 pm: Denali Kid's Bakeoff. Check out a baked goods competition for kids (Kindergarten through 12th grade). Email Sarah or Megan no later than Thursday, February 25, to enter
  • 6:30 pm: "Denali's Got Talent!" A talent show, with prizes. All ages are welcome to enter. Email Sarah or Megan no later than Thursday, February 25, to enter.
  • 7:30 pm: Mayor's Community Service Award, presented by Denali Borough Mayor, Clay Walker.
Time: 9 pm
Fireworks! A fireworks show will be held at the Ice Rink, presented by Healy Hockey.

Sunday, February 28
Location: Tri-Valley Library, Suntrana Street
Time: 2 pm - 5 pm

Snow Buddies Fun Fest
: A family-friendly event with mushing and winter-related activities. There will be a showing of the film Snow Buddies at 3 pm.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(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.

Contact Us