In 1964 the Wilderness Act stated that ‘there shall be no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.’ As such, in Denali, they need to find other means to transport materials hundreds of miles to remote locations.
Most park rangers have a range of activities. They collect fees at entrance stations; the deliver talks about park history and ecology, the serve as law enforcement to protect the parks and the people, the fix the facilities. Some of the rangers in Denali National Park, though, work harder than just about anybody else in the entire park system. When it comes to hauling heavy loads, these guys travel hundreds of miles carrying thousands of pounds of supplies, and they do it all in the dead of winter. They help with wilderness clean up, they break trail, and they haul scientific equipment. They do it all. I am, of course, talking about the Denali sled dogs.
Here is a National Park Service video where they used the Denali sled dogs to help clean up some barrels in Gates of the Arctic National Park:
Every day at the Denali kennel they have a sled dog demonstration where they run the sled dogs and tell you about their importance to the park. It’s incredible to hear the cacophony of barking as the dogs realize that some of them get to go out and run. They go crazy! They absolutely love running and having the opportunity to be hooked up and pull the sled. It was wild to hear them so excited. Here is a short clip of the dogs in action:
This next video may look a little strange to you. When they take the dogs off of the sled they pick up their front legs. They then jog with the dog and release them as they sprint back to their kennel. They do this, because the dogs are so powerful that if they ran with all four legs the handler would immediately get dragged to the ground.
I could have stayed for hours petting the dogs. I would recommend checking out their website as they have photos of the dogs, as well as a tracker that shows where they have been recently. Denali National Park – Kennel Website
Here are a couple of photos of the dogs, as well as a short video featuring some of Denali’s future sled dogs.