The US National Park Service is staffed by dedicated Park Rangers who protect and help run the National Parks of America. In Denali National Park there is a unique group of Park Rangers who can only be found there in Alaska. Husky sled dogs!
During the winter months snow mobiles and the like are not allowed to be used in Denali National Park (to help preserve the pristine wilderness). The parks service keeps a large group of sled dogs to help maintain the park in winter. They use sleds to get out to the various parts of the park that would otherwise be inaccessible when there is deep snow.
Obviously though there is not always snow about in Alaska so this isn’t always possible. To keep the dogs active they are taken for regular walks and also during the tourist season sled dog demonstrations are held to show the public how the sled teams (humans and dogs) work together. It is hilarious when they are setting the sled up as all the dogs go crazy howling and barking. All these dogs want to do get hooked up to the sleds and run! Only a small group are selected for each display though and once that happens the rest calm down and go back to sleeping.
There are scheduled times each day when you can visit the parks kennel area and see the sled dog demonstration and ranger presentation on the parks use of the dogs. This is a really cool part of a visit to Denali National Park as you can see all the dogs beforehand and even pat some of them. This is a fun time.
After the demonstration I actually hung around the kennels chatting with the Park Rangers. The crowd all left and I realised I could go around and see all the dogs again without battling a crowd. This was great and I got to pat a lot of them which they all seem to love. I am a dog person but have not had a pet dog for many years, so I really enjoyed this!
One of the dogs had recently had a puppy when I was there. While the puppy was sleeping, the mother came over to me for a pat. Whilst this was happening I noticed the puppy was dreaming and its little legs were running hard. Huskies truly are born to run!
Once a sled dogs career ends they are given to people who have applied to adopt them. This is done under strict conditions, so the parks service can ensure the dog will go to a good home where they will be well looked after, get plenty of exercise and have an enjoyable life. A visit to the kennels really is a great feel good experience and one not to be missed on a visit to Denali National Park.