When you think of Alaska what images pop into your mind? If it is the image of barking dogs pulling speeding sleds through the snow, then don’t miss the Denali Sled Dog Kennel when you visit Denali National Park.
Our visit to the kennels turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. The rangers love to share their knowledge of the sled teams. Their day includes putting on several exciting dog sled demonstrations each day. As we found out on our drizzly visit, the dogs run rain or shine! Those pups don’t care. They want to pull that sled!
In the kennel area, an interesting assortment of equipment and training tools are on display. There is also a lot of information about the history of dogs in the park.
Love on the Puppies in the Denali Sled Dog Kennel!
Since the dogs retire at the age of 9, new puppy trainees are usually on the scene to entertain. These puppies are the sled dogs of the future and are usually born and raised in the Denali Kennels. You can also visit some of the dogs after the show. Many of them love the extra attention they get from their guests. We were able to have a meet and greet with a sweet young lady named Clove.
The Impact of the Wilderness Act of 1964 on Denali Sled Dogs
For almost a century, dog sled teams have been an important part of managing the vast lands in Denali. The first team of 7 dogs was acquired by the first park superintendent, Harry Karstens, in 1922. For many decades sledding with these amazing animals were the only way for rangers to get deep into the park once snow fell.
Today, because of the Wilderness Act of 1964, much of the park area is still only accessible by snowshoeing or by dog sled in the winter. That act set aside 2 million acres as wilderness. Management work is highly restricted to have the minimum impact on the environment. Using sled dogs to support research team and ranger patrols into the park eliminates the need for motorized vehicles to enter the wilderness area.
Things to Know
During the summer months, the Denali Sled Dog Kennel is open to the public. And what fun it is to spend a couple hours with these dogs! The kennel can easily be reached from the visitor center by a short hike or shuttle bus. There is a parking lot nearby which fills quickly in the summer making the free shuttle a great choice. The Kennels are usually open during the winter but it is likely the dogs themselves will be out in the park.
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