In summer and in winter, Denali National Park offers a variety of different activities for visitors to enjoy. Located in Alaska approximately twelve miles south of Healy, almost in the center of the state, Denali is known for its beautiful, unspoiled trails and high peaks. While Denali is probably best known for its mountaineering, there are many other pursuits as well. With more than 6 million acres to explore, you're sure to find something here that interests you.
Get climbing. Denali is a great place for experienced mountaineers. Mount McKinley and Mount Foraker both provide challenging climbs. Make sure to register for your permit at least 60 days in advance with the Talkeetna Ranger Station. You can register online through the National Parks Service's Denali website.
Go for a hike. Denali offers beautiful landscapes and clean air for hiking enthusiasts. Denali National Park divides its 6 million acres into 87 backpacking units, more than 40 of which have quotas as to the maximum amount of hikers allowed at any given time, so you won't feel crowded--but you'll need to plan ahead to make sure you can go where you want. You'll need a backcountry hiking permit first; it's available at the Wilderness Access Center. While backpacking, you'll need typical extreme-weather hiking gear, as well as bear-resistant containers. Parking for backcountry hikers is available at Riley Creek Campground free of charge.
Take a ranger-led nature walk Learning about Denali from a knowledgeable guide helps you appreciate the park in a different way, and if you're nervous about going off on you're own, you'll feel safe having one of these skilled rangers leading you. The Denali rangers offer guided walks and hikes in many different parts of the park, with options to suit most fitness levels, and off-trail hikes for the more adventuresome. Most hikes leave from either the Denali Visitor Center or the Eielson Visitor Center.
Go mushing. Denali keeps a kennel of sled dogs, which are used to patrol the park in mushing teams. Learn about the kennel history and how the sled dogs help protect the park. You'll also meet the dogs, and you can even experience the park on the back of a sled, with the dogs pulling you.
Visit Denali in February to participate in its annual Winterfest. A celebration of winter and ice, Winterfest offers such activities as snow-sculpting competitions, snowshoeing, ice carving, and dog sledding, and all activities are free of charge. At day's end, you can continue celebrating in the town of Healy, where the community center hosts other free activities.