"Reflection Pond" by U.S. National Park Service , public domain
Backcountry Camping Guide 2006
Backcountry Camping Guide to Denali National Park & Preserve (NP&PRES) in Alaska. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Denali National Park and Preserve Backcountry Camping Guide Michael Larson Photo Getting a Permit Getting Started This brochure contains information vital to the success of your backcountry trip in Denali National Park and Preserve. The following paragraphs will outline the Denali backcountry permit system, the steps required to obtain your permit, and some important tips for a safe and memorable wilderness experience. Denali’s Trailless Wilderness Traveling and camping in this expansive terrain is special. The lack of developed trails, bridges, or campsites means that you are free to determine your own route and discover Denali for yourself. How ever, with this freedom comes responsibility – responsibility for your self and for the wilderness. Self-reliance is paramount. You must be prepared to travel cross-country through remote terrain in harsh weather, and rescue yourself in the event of problems. It is also your responsibility to help protect the special resources and opportuni ties that are present at Denali by carefully following the principles of Leave No Trace so that your travels do not diminish the experience of those who follow you. Backcountry Unit System The 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve is divided into 87 separate backcountry units (see map on reverse side). Fortytwo units within the Denali Wilderness have a limit on the number of individual people that can camp in each unit per night. During peak summer visitation many of these units are heavily used, so please come to the Backcountry Information Center with several alternative trip itineraries. Don’t become discouraged if your first choice is not available. Remember, there are 6 million acres to choose from, and all of the units offer excellent wilderness trips! Pay attention to the following requirements when planning a trek through Denali’s backcountry: Leave No Trace and Safety Permits are available at the Backcountry Information Center (BIC) located adjacent to the Wilderness Access Center (WAC). Allow approximately one hour for the permit process, which consists of five basic steps: Step 1: Plan Your Itinerary recognition that you understand all backcountry rules and regu lations. Violations of the conditions of the permit may result in adverse impacts to park resources and legal consequences. Visit www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/backcountry, and use this guide, maps, as well as other available references to pre plan several alternative itineraries prior to your arrival in the park. Building flexibility into your plans is very important because certain units may be unavailable at the time you wish to obtain your permit. Remember to be conservative when predicting your daily mileage. There are no trails, and travel can be slow and difficult in brushy areas or when fording glacier rivers. Upon your arrival at the Backcountry Information Center, several additional resources such as unit description guides, local maps, and knowledgeable staff will be available to assist you in planning your trip. Step 2: Watch Backcountry Video This informative 30-minute video is presented at the BIC and before and after BIC hours at the WAC and answers many ques tions you might have about negotiating the Denali backcountry. It covers topics such as campsite selection, bear and wildlife encounters, river crossings, Leave No Trace principles, Bear Resistant Food Containers (BRFCs), and much more. All mem bers of your party must view this program. Step 3: Attend Safety Talk Following the video, all party members must be present for a brief safety talk to receive the backcountry permit and BRFC required for proper food storage. You must sign your permit in • Forty-two backcountry units within the Denali Wilderness have a specific quota. • Unit availability determines where you may camp each night and you must camp in the unit for which you have a permit. • Maximum 7 consecutive nights in a single unit. • Maximum 30 nights in the backcountry (various units). • Permits are issued only in person (no telephone reserva tions), and no more than 24 hours in advance of the first day of your trip. • Gravel River Bars: these flat, rocky surfaces characterize most major rivers in the park and provide good travel routes. • All party members must be present to receive a permit. • • Permits are not required for day hiking in the backcountry. Wet Tundra: this terrain is marshy and interspersed with hummocks. Travel can be slow and tiring. • Dry Tundra: dry tundra generally exists at higher elevations and affords good, solid footing and limited brush. • Brushy Tundra: typically occurs in bands or thickets between 2500-3500 ft, and often limits visibility and travel speed. • Glacial Moraine: located at the base of glaciers and often denoted on maps by stippled areas, a moraine consists of ice covered with dirt and debris. Travel is rough and timeconsuming. Wildlife of Denali Step 4: Delineate Your Map Unit boundaries and wildlife closures are not marked in the backcountry. It is your responsibility to know their location. Fif teen minute (1 in = 1 mile) USGS topographic quad maps are strongly recommended and are available for purchase at the BIC or Alaska Geographic Bookstore. After obtaining the proper map(s), delineate unit boundaries and wildlife closure boundar ies so that you will know where to hike and camp during your trip. Bears Symbolic of the Alaskan wilderness, both grizzly bears and black bears inhabit the park and may be encountered in the backcountry. To keep these magnificent creatures wild and enhance your per sonal safety, keep the following in mind: For more information on the bus system, visit www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/visiting-denali.htm • Make noise while hiking to alert bears of your presence. • Bear Resistant Food Containers are required in most units and are lent to visitors at no cost. They must be stored 100 yards (91 m) from cooking areas and tent sites. • Be alert for bears and alter your activities to avoid them. • Never run from a bear. depending on rainfall and temperatures. Glacial rivers generally run lower in early morning hours, so plan accordingly. Trekking poles or walking sticks are recommended for crossing. • Pepper spray can be carried as an added precaution. How ever, it is useful only as a last resort in the event of an emer gency, and should not be viewed as substitute for proper backcountry behavior. Visitors must educate themselves on proper bear spray technique and know its limitations. When you visit the Backcountry Information Center, you will be pro vided with more detailed information about hiking in bear country. Bear Resistant Food Container (BRFC) If you wish to travel the Park Road by bike and camp outside of an established campground, you must obtain a backcountry permit at the Backcountry Information Center (BIC) and camp at least 0.5 mile (1.3 km) from the road with your tent out of view of the road. If you leave your bicycle overnight, it must be left 25 yards from the road and out of sight from road traffic. Bikes also must be adequately marked with the group name, backcountry permit number and date that they will be picked up. Reservations are required if you wish to stay overnight in campgrounds along the park road. To make reser vations, call 1-800-622-7275 or 907-272-7275. Each Camper Bus can accommodate two bicycles. These hard plastic portable containers are a vital part of Denali’s bear/human conflict management program. You must store all food, garbage, and scented items in a BRFC when camping overnight in units where they are required. Their consistent use has resulted in a bear population that does not associate humans or their property with food sources. A small BRFC weighs 3 lbs. and holds 3-5 days of food for one person, and the larger BRFC weighs 5 lbs. and carries 7-10 days of food. BRFCs are issued free of charge with backcountry permits and must be returned within 48 hours following a trip. If the BRFC is lost or damaged, you may be held responsible for its replacement. Kevlar or bear-resistant bags are not permitted. • Do not feed or allow wildlife to obtain human foods. • Maintain a minimum of 300 yards (274 m) distance from bears. • Do not approach or follow wildlife. Maintain a minimum 25 yards (68 m) distance from all other animals. • If your presence alters an animal’s behavior, you are too close. Critical Wildlife Closures There are both permanent and temporary wildlife closures every year in Denali. These areas are restricted to all entry and exist for the mutual protection of humans and critical wildlife species. It is your responsibility to recognize and respect the boundaries of these clo sures. Ask a ranger at the Backcountry Information Center for recent closure information. Failure to avoid closures may result in a citation. • In pristine areas like Denali, avoid camping where others have camped. • Do not move rocks, plants, antlers or artifacts; leave the area as you found it so that future hikers do not see signs of your use. Kim Heacox Photo Cooking Drinking Water Giardia and Cryptosporidium are bacteria found in unfiltered water and present serious health risks. Take one of the following precau tions before drinking water from a natural source: • Heat water to rolling boil. • Use a water filter. • Treat with iodine tablets. Neither pit nor chemical toilets are available in the backcountry. You must follow these rules for proper waste disposal: • Dig a hole at least 6 in (15 cm) deep and at least 100 ft (30 m) away from water for fecal waste disposal. • Pack out all sanitation products, including used toilet paper. Minimum Impact Hiking Glacier Crossings Kennan Ward Photo Glaciers present numerous hazards, and any form of glacier travel will require extra preparation. If you plan to traverse the upper ice and snow portions of a glacier, carry appropriate equip ment, such as ice axe and crampons and know how to use them. Crossing glacial moraines also presents many potential hazards, such as debris slides, ice caves, and uneven terrain. To keep the Denali backcountry in pristine condition for others, please take care in how you hike. • Hike on durable surfaces whenever possible, such as gravel river bars. • Avoid hiking single file; spread out and disperse to prevent the formation of social trails. Gear Checklist The following equipment is highly recommended when venturing out into the Denali backcountry: • Hiking boots (waterproofed) and wool socks. • Trekking poles and gaiters for river crossings. • Rain jacket and pants (ponchos not recommended). • Polypropylene, nylon, or wool clothing (avoid cotton). Be pre pared for temperatures ranging from 30º to 80º F (-1º to 27º C) in the summer months. • Stove, fuel, cookware and water bottles. Denali is an amazing place to enjoy winter activities such as snow shoeing, skiing or dog mushing. During any of these activities, folks are welcome to camp overnight in the park, though they must acquire a (free) backcountry permit in person at the winter visitor center. • A way to treat water. • Compass and map (maps available at BIC). • Toilet paper and trowel. Packrafting • Tent with rain fly and waterproof floor (bivouacking is not rec ommended). • Sleeping bag and pad (for any overnight summer trip, protec tion to 20º F (-7º C) is suggested). • Insect repellent and/or head net. • Emergency gear, such as first aid kit, knife, and a signaling device such as a whistle, signal mirror, or flare. • Large plastic or waterproof bags to protect the gear inside your pack. Camping in Southern Denali Hiking and camping south of the crest of the Alaska Range requires additional preparation and skill. This area contains ice fields, sheer rock, heavily crevassed glaciers, extremely large rivers, and very dense brush. To obtain permits to camp in these areas, contact the Talkeetna Ranger Station at 907-733-2231. Winter Camping Website Visit Denali National Park’s backcountry website at www.nps.gov/ dena/planyourvisit/backcountry Denali is home to sheep, caribou, wolves, foxes, bears, moose, eagles, ptarmigan, and other wildlife that you are very likely to encounter in the backcountry. Please keep Denali’s animals wild by following these guidelines when encountering wildlife: Camp on durable surfaces whenever possible such as gravel river bars, and avoid damaging fragile tundra. Sanitation Travel by packraft can be both fun and rewarding. Denali’s backcountry offers many possibilities for combining a day or over night hike with packrafting. While there are many opportunities for beginners, the hazards and risks of any whitewater travel are great. You are responsible for understanding these risks and acquiring the skill and experience to be self-reliant. Never packraft alone. Wildlife • If you use a water filter, remember that many of Denali’s rivers carry glacial silt. This silt will quickly clog your water filter and render it inoperable. The addition of silt-stopper devices is highly recom mended for any water filter. Other Information Bicycle Camping Your tent must be at least 0.5 mi (0.8 km) away from the park road and not visible from it or other developed areas. Campfires are not permitted in the Denali Wilderness. Fuel for porta ble camp stoves is available for purchase at the Riley Creek Mercan tile, located next to Riley Creek Campground. When cooking, remain alert for bears; be ready to pack up and move quickly. River Crossings There are no bridges across rivers in the backcountry. You must negotiate your own river crossings and pack gear accordingly to keep dry in the event of an accidental swim. Water temperature is approximately 36º F (2º C), and immersion may result in hypother mia. Try to cross where the river is braided and dispersed, rather than concentrated into a single deep, narrow channel. Due to the high silt content of the water, it is often difficult to ascertain the true depth of the water. River depths can also vary widely during a trip • Access to most park backcountry units requires use of the Visi tor Transportation System (VTS) of buses. Special Camper Buses that are built to accommodate people and their large backpacks depart the WAC several times a day. To secure space for your party, you should purchase tickets at the WAC soon after obtain ing your backcountry permit. This bus system will take you to the start of your hike. When your trip is finished, or if you wish to move to another part of the park during the course of your trip, simply return to the park road and the next available VTS bus will pick you up. Understandably, many of the most popular units are predominately dry tundra terrain. However, permits for these units are also the most difficult to obtain, and sightings of other hikers are more common. We recommend you consider other less requested units that may require an initial extra effort to climb above the brushy tundra, but then offer large areas of dry tundra, as well as exceptional opportu nities for solitude. Karen Ward Photo There are no established campsites in the Denali backcountry. Use the following guidelines when selecting your campsite: Step 5: Obtain Camper Bus Ticket Terrain of Denali There are five major terrain categories in the Denali backcountry. Here’s what you can expect: Camping w w w . l n t . o r g For more information contact: Caching Kennan Ward Photo Backcountry Information Center Denali National Park and Preserve PO Box 9 Denali Park, AK 99755 For extended backcountry treks, you may cache food and supplies in bear-proof food lockers located at any established campground area, the Wilderness Access Center, Toklat Road Camp, or Eielson Visitor Center. Label food/supplies with party name and date you intend to retrieve it. Denali National Park is not responsible for caches. Mountaineering If you intend to ascend Denali or Mt. Foraker, contact the Talkeetna Ranger Station at 907-733-2231 or visit www.nps.gov/dena/plany ourvisit/mountaineering. Applications for permits must be received at least 60 days in advance of your expedition date. Registration is also recommended for other climbs. Bob Butterfield Photo Phone: May - Sept. Oct. - April 907-683-9590 907-683-2294 E-mail: email@example.com Backcountry Website: www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm Backcountry Units The Al a To Fairbanks 9 0mi 14 5km sk a R ai d lroa River k Cr ee e NT ISH NA os A K ar le G L A C IER UN AC k as Al Th e KS G 75 GL AC S usitn a DENALI S TAT E PA R K IER S it us na R iv e r S o To k D U T H H IL L si t S Talkeetn North R S P 3 East 0 Rive a ltn r s v ill e Ro a d Trapper Creek 20 Kilometers 10 0 20 Miles 10 Denali National Park Talkeetna r Pe te Unpaved road Please Note Ri Trail indicator BRFC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 Triple Lakes X Riley Creek X Jenny Creek X Upper Savage X Upper Sanctuary X Upper Teklanika X Upper East Fork X Polychrome Glaciers X East Branch Upper Toklat X West Branch Upper Toklat X Stony Dome X Sunset/Sunrise Glaciers X Mount Eielson X McKinley Bar East X McKinley Bar West X Windy Creek X Foggy and Easy Pass X Upper Glacier Creek X Pirate Creek X McGonagall Pass X Muddy River X Upper Foraker rec. West Fork Glacier X Mount Healy X Healy Ridge X Primrose Ridge X Mount Wright X Sushana River X Igloo Mountain X Tributary Creek X Polychrome Mountain X Middle Toklat X Quota 12 12 4 6 6 6 4 6 6 6 2 4 4 4 4 8 8 4 4 4 8 unl. 8 4 4 4 4 8 4 4 6 4 Acreage 6,567 79,533 22,740 32,578 67,066 54,011 24,255 23,379 26,250 31,432 8,693 21,077 14,851 17,432 21,094 39,076 88,405 12,471 69,236 25,079 81,830 371,494 64,848 20,424 20,403 9,679 14,412 45,457 27,763 14,960 18,788 29,421 No. Name BRFC 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 Stony Hill X Mount Galen X Moose Creek X Jumbo Creek X Lower East Fork X Lower Toklat X Stony Creek X Clearwater Fork X Spruce Peak X Eureka Creek X Eldorado Creek X Peters Glacier -Mount McKinley -Upper Kahiltna -Mount Foraker -Herron Glacier -Stampede rec. Southeast Stampede rec. Southwest Stampede rec. Kantishna Hills rec. Moose-McKinley rec. McKinley-Birch rec. Birch-Foraker Preserve rec. Heron-Highpower Preserve Swift Fork rec. Bull River rec. Ohio Creek rec. Eldridge Glacier -Buckskin Glacier -Upper Ruth -Lower Ruth -Mount Hunter -- Talkeetna to 14mi 22km Ranger station Campground Denali This map is not intended for navigation purposes. Primitive road National Preserve Topographic maps Airstrip should be used in the backcountry. Distance Talkeetna Railroad depot r To Anchorage 112mi 180km Name a Petersville R iv er E E T er No. River r ve Ri na Ri v k ay OO 73 na L 83 ve ha t sH igh w R IE AC IL hi Ka K ic Pa rk R Fork Ye ntna River R Ch u l i t n a Rive r IE R k S GLACIE ee Cr IN For k rs 85 TA Yentna AC te Pe N C CIER U GL KA A GL IER AC GL GL CIER GLA A I LT N AC KAH IE R R IE AC NA OT TL DO GLA O H R k M H NA IE t Wes NA For 3 LT AC DENALI N AT I O N A L P R E S E R V E k GL a sh ko ns To n t a i ou M 79 81 GL Mount Dall 8756ft 2669m AC I E R Mount Goldie 6315ft 1925m L BUCKSKIN RUT 77 Eas t HI LL 84 Avalanche Spire 10105ft 3080m oa i lr PA R K GL DA N A DENALI N AT I O N A L Ra KA YE 82 TN 76 NA RIS 74 72 GE a GE CHE 46 IT er Riv AC I E R E GL Mount Hunter 14573ft 4427m OS Ton zo na Mount Foraker 17400ft 5303m TO K 80 Mount Russell 11670ft 3557m E TH TR RU HEA IT PH OR T H E G R E AT G 47 RID ee Cr R GL AC I E R A L K S A GL H ELD AM 71 Mount Eldridge 10433ft 3180m 45 Mount Crosson 12800ft 3901m a ar y o AC ON A Mount Deception 11768ft 3587m MOUNT McKINLEY 78 Fork R iver South Peak 20320ft 6193m ss Summit Summit Lake For k Oh i GL RR Kahiltna Dome 12525ft 3818m 48 RP North Peak 19470ft 5934m IE HE Swift SU R Bu l l or ge AC IE W ild e ern Paxs er GL 86 Mount Mather 12123ft 3695m nd 8 y wa Cantwell 70 West ou l i High iv ER BR IG R AK PETE Mount Brooks 11940ft 3639m TRALEI RA 69 22 ER RS ST FO A e HT AW AY 44 Peters Dome 10600ft 3231m CI 87 b rea De na Ge R iv r GL W i W a N enan Creek Foggy Pass Riv er R ER ACI 16 y nd Chu litn a r DRO MUL 17 23 WEST FORK GLACIE y d 18 ER LAC I ake For 22 N A E G T 20 k R 8 Cant well Cr e ek wa ter Cre ek h Birc For k Mo 19 R il e er 13 k 10 12 2 R iv C re e a r w ater 21 y C re e k er R iv Cr ee Cle Eielson Visitor Center 9 7 SU N S E p er n B ir ch 11 E n River River ddy Mu rro der ea 15 y S lip He Wi l ar ess bo ar und 34 Creek Fork 1 e River Wonder Lake McKinley 35 36 4 Savag Wonder Lake Polychrome Overlook 33 ose Yanert 6 er Mo Riley Creek Entrance Area 3 5 R iv Kantishna HR O M POLYC CIER GL A 43 Backcountry Desk Park Headquarters H i n e s C re e k Igloo Creek 29 t 31 Toklat River 24 er R iv 41 D E N A L I N AT I O N A L PA R K W I L D E R N E S S KI CH AT 30 To k la 32 Savage River u ar y k 25 26 S a nc t r ek Cre 66 Fork Ton zon a River Fork cie ry ek Cre DENALI NATIONAL PRES ER VE 68 ft ee 27 Teklanika River 39 40 Cr Otter Lake Sw i C 42 River Spectacle Lake Big Lake ve r Creek pe Ri 3 Sanctuary River er R iv y Gla le l ip Old Cache Lake PA R K r in 28 37 38 lat N AT I O N A L cK Bea M paw k To Foraker DENALI S Highpower ar Be E as t River 65 Sprucefish Lake 62 Cr ek 64 67 H e aly HI LL S 63 Healy Medical clinic River Teklanika Be ar Trail de pe am t S Chilchukabena Lake ee R iv er aw age Sav Lake Minchumina rp To k Cre Be a Minchumina 61 C re a l at hn ek Starr Lake t is River n Ka er R iv M ud ve r dy a nan Ne Ri Picnic area 3 Quota A creage No. Name 4 4 4 2 6 6 4 12 12 12 12 unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. 30,119 22,769 19,732 8,195 29,421 68,476 45,130 82,532 32,317 16,127 32,542 75,233 50,011 24,480 32,008 177,513 121,934 21,864 25,367 322,355 312,189 311,395 282,635 410,396 155,143 84,464 39,887 177,309 99,896 104,656 96,070 39,752 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 Tokositna Glacier Middle Kahiltna Little Switzerland Upper Yentna-Lacuna Lower Kahiltna Dall-Yentna Preserve Yentna River Preserve Mount Dall Preserve Kitchatna Preserve Mount Mather Mount Brooks BRFC Quota Acreage -rec. --rec. -rec. rec. rec. --- unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. unl. 144,861 11,905 121,150 124,748 144,403 69,480 130,689 197,565 247,423 41,368 97,065 X = BRFC required rec. = BRFC recommended Ri v er