Denali is not closed in winter! This far north, winter is the predominant season. During this time, snow blankets the park, daylight disappears, and temperatures can plunge to a frigid -40 F (-40 C).
Even with the short days and chilly temperatures, there is still a lot to do here. Though the Denali Park Road typically closes at Mile 3 for several months, there is plenty to do for those prepared for the cold and outdoor recreation or sightseeing.
Winter Visitor Center
At Mile 1.3 on the park road is the Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC), which acts as Denali's winter visitor center. The winter season runs from late September until early May annually.
The Winter Visitor Center is the place to begin your winter visit to Denali. Learn about the park by watching park films and browsing a small display area. Borrow snowshoes to take on the trails or pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Book. Get brochures and trail maps and access several trails fom here. Rangers are available to answer questions and collect park entrance fees (credit card only, no cash).
Indoor Picnic Area
Next door to the MSLC is the Murie Hall, which is open daily in winter as an indoor picnic area. This facility is open to the public from late September through mid-April annually and serves as a warm place to relax, plan your next adventure, or watch park films. The indoor picnic area has restrooms and a water bottle filling station. No food is available within the park. Bring food for your trip as the closest services are in Healy, 11 miles north of the park entrance. For more information on local lodges and restaurants that are open in the winter, refer to the Denali Chamber of Commerce.
Common Winter Activities: Skiing, 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.
Some of Denali's summer hiking trails are also good for skiing. Please note that winter biking is only possible on the Roadside Bike Trail and the park road; other summer hiking trails cannot be biked, in summer or winter.
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.
If you wish to take an overnight trip in the park, you'll need a backcountry permit.
You can visit the park's Sled Dog Kennels in winter, although the dogs are sometimes out on the trail. Open hours are hosted by a ranger on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm, except for major holidays.
Please be prepared for all conditions and contact the park with any questions you may have about trail conditions and winter recreation in Denali. Snow cover in Denali can range from excellent to nonexistent and temperatures can range from 40°F to -40°F in the winter.
Snowshoes and ice grippers are available to borrow from the Winter Visitor Center. For all other gear, bring your own equipment or rent it in Fairbanks or Anchorage before traveling to Denali. There are no local rental options in the Denali area in the winter.
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.
Other Winter Activities
Last updated: September 18, 2023