While everything about our Alaskan adventure was incredible, the most “aww”-inducing part was our visit to Denali National Park’s Sled Dog Kennel.
A must-visit for dog lovers of all ages, the park’s Sled Dog Kennel houses over 30 Alaskan Huskies, whom you may “meet” on the park’s website. Lucky for us, we arrived at the kennel just minutes after a demonstration had begun! (Had we known, we would have picked up an exhibition schedule in the Visitor’s Center and seen that they were taking place that day at 10AM, 2PM and 4PM.) You could tell the pups were thrilled to be on display!
The 30-minute demonstration gave an overview of the services the sled dogs provide for the park – most importantly providing winter patrol of the park’s back-country, which cannot be accessed by motorized vehicles. Even though much of the action that’s of interest to visitors takes place in the acres closer to the park’s entrance, Denali National Park encompasses 6 million acres, land still needs to be monitored.
The sled dogs make it possible for rangers to monitor and deter illegal activities such as snowmachining (yes, that’s what New Englanders call “snowmobiling”) and poaching. They make contact with winter sporting enthusiasts (to update about trail conditions, weather, etc.) and they have hauled thousands of pounds of materials and supplies for cabin building/restoration or trail construction efforts, which otherwise would not have made it to the far-reaches of the park. (Who knew?!)
The Ranger explained that the dogs were in the midst of their “summer vacation,” as summer is the time for them to relax and be lazy in the heat, but we did see one dog show off his (or her!) speed. The Ranger guided one of the pups away from the pack – shown below – and let go and that pup was OFF!
Even though sled dogs are known for endurance – not speed – the dog’s speed was tremendous. It was a fun demonstration that people of all ages enjoyed!
After that action, the dogs were taken back to their respective kennels or houses and folks were able to go around and make friends. Nuna was my favorite – what a love she was!
The pups that were behind a fence were off-limits for various reasons. (And I don’t blame them, I don’t like a bunch of random people charging toward me either!) Those in need of a dog fix while on vacation – including my mom and I – were able to get it with these precious pooches!
For obvious reasons, the 3-month-old Alaskan Husky pups were a fan favorite. Talk about lazy – they had no interest in seeing what was going on around them. Boy were they cute, though!
Sometimes a trip’s un-planned stops turn out to be the best, and visiting the Sled Dog Kennel was certainly one of the best! Make sure to add it to your “must-see” list if you’re headed to Denali, it really offers something for people of all ages!