THING TO DO

Visit the Denali Kennels

Denali is the only national park in America with canine rangers!

Sled dogs and rangers work side-by-side in summer and in winter. Denali’s sled dogs act as furry ambassadors in summer, eager to meet every visitor who walks into the kennels. In winter, the dogs travel throughout the park, establishing trails for winter visitors. They also perform tasks in the wilderness that might otherwise require expensive, noisy, or destructive methods, such as bringing scientists to remote research stations or hauling old trash out of the wilderness.

The sled dogs live in the park kennels. Open year round, the kennels can be reached with your own vehicle or by bus (in summer). In summer, demonstrations are given daily in the kennels, where a ranger talks about the past and present purpose of the dogs, and does a short trip around a track with a small team of dogs, to demonstrate their love for running and pulling.

These dogs are extremely friendly, and are eager to meet you during your visit!

Note on Visiting in Winter

The sled dogs are often out in the park working on projects during the winter. Although they may not be around, visitors can visit the Sled Dog Kennels, located at mile 3.4 along the park road.

Please follow all safety guidelines:
  • Do not enter dog pens. This is their home. If a dog seems unsure of you, do not approach.
  • Keep young children by your side or in your arms.
  • Leave your pet behind, for your dog’s safety and the safety of the park dogs.

Note on Duration

Summer visitors may choose to attend a ranger-led program in the kennels, or to just visit on their own. Attending a demonstration will take around 2 hours total (including time spent petting the dogs and traveling to/from the kennels; the ranger talk itself is only about 20 minutes).

Visitors to the kennels who are not attending a demonstration should plan on at least 30 minutes to pet dogs and wander through the dog-yard, though dog lovers may want to budget more time than that!
Details

We suggest spending at least 30 minutes in the kennels. If you're attending a summer-time demonstration, set aside about 90 minutes (which will include not just the ranger talk, but also travel to the kennels, time before and after the demonstration, and travel back to the visitor center).

To keep the Denali sled dogs, your pet(s) and all of our visitors happy and healthy, pets are prohibited from the kennels at all times.

During ranger demonstrations in the summer, an unknown animal in the area will trigger a pack response in our kennel that causes all the dogs to lunge, bark and jump in an attempt to scare the unknown animal from their home. This creates a very dangerous environment for the hundreds of people hoping to pet and visit with the Denali NPS sled dogs before and after the program. It would also make it impossible for attendees to hear the ranger and we cannot be able to safely hook up and run a demonstration team for the crowd if outside pets are in the area. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to leave an animal unattended in the Headquarters area, either.

During the winter months it is just as dangerous for an outside animal to be brought into the kennels area. Kennels staff may be harnessing dogs or driving teams in and out of the kennels at any time and an unknown pet in the area could cause serious safety hazards for everyone.

Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.

There is just one road in Denali. The kennels are located adjacent to Park Headquarters, at Mile 3 of the Denali Park Road. To get here:

  • With a car
    Enter the park. Drive 3 miles, until you see signs for the Denali Headquarters. Park anywhere in this area, and follow signs for a short walk (less than 100 yards/meters) to the kennels.
  • Without a car
    In summer, make your way to the Denali Visitor Center. From there, use a courtesy shuttle bus to travel to the kennels, or walk uphill on the Roadside or Rock Creek trails (about 1.5 miles) to the kennels.
  • Note on summer-time demonstrations
    If you plan to attend a ranger program in the kennels, please travel to the Denali Visitor Center about 45 minutes before the program begins, even if you have your own car. Parking is unreliable in the summer, so to avoid missing the demo, we have visitors park at the visitor center and use a free bus to travel to the kennels.
Accessibility Information
  • The paths throughout the kennels are well-compacted gravel.
  • There are seats in the kennels amphitheater for visitors to use.
  • A wheelchair-accessible bathroom is at the entrance to the kennels.
  • ASL interpretation is available upon prior request. Please contact us at least 48 hours in advance so we have time to make arrangements, as Denali is quite remote.

Note on Pets and Service Animals

To keep the Denali sled dogs, your pet(s) and all of our visitors happy and healthy, pets are prohibited from the kennels at all times.

During ranger demonstrations in the summer, an unknown animal in the area will trigger a pack response in our kennel that causes all the dogs to lunge, bark and jump in an attempt to scare the unknown animal from their home. This creates a very dangerous environment for the hundreds of people hoping to pet and visit with the Denali NPS sled dogs before and after the program. It would also make it impossible for attendees to hear the ranger and we cannot be able to safely hook up and run a demonstration team for the crowd if outside pets are in the area. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to leave an animal unattended in the Headquarters area, either.

During the winter months it is just as dangerous for an outside animal to be brought into the kennels area. Kennels staff may be harnessing dogs or driving teams in and out of the kennels at any time and an unknown pet in the area could cause serious safety hazards for everyone.

If you wish to visit the kennels with a qualified service animal, we ask that you notify the kennels staff in advance, by calling 907-683-9586. Ideally, we can assist you during your visit in a way that lets you leave your service animal in capable hands outside the kennels area while you meet our NPS sled dogs and/or attend the ranger program. We know your service animal is exceptionally well trained, but our dogs do not differentiate their response from any other outside pet, so the same safety concerns apply. 

Last updated: August 20, 2018