Watching Wildlife in Denali National Park

Designated by Congress in 1917 specifically to protect the wildlife living along the slopes and valleys within the Alaska Range, Denali National Park has been an animal haven for some time. As the northernmost park in the U.S. National Park system, you’ll enjoy sights and terrain you can’t find anywhere else in the contiguous U.S. You will note 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, 14 species of fish, but 0 species of reptiles.

Some of the most iconic large mammals in the park include black bears, wolves, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, foxes, and marmots.

Denali National Park is perhaps most known for its bird life. Golden eagles are there but rare to see, and you may often view a transitory bald eagle. It’s more common to see ravens, mew gulls, gray jays, and ptarmigan. Don’t forget to peer down into the rivers for the abundant fish that will swim upstream in the spring season.

The Denali National Park’s Top Animals

  • Bears
  • Caribou
    • Also known as the American reindeer, caribou is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to the Arctic. They can be spotted in herds throughout the park.
  • Moose
  • Dall Sheep
    • As a northern breed of bighorn sheep, dall sheep are found high up in the mountains around Denali National Park. They can be spotted on Mount Margaret, Mount Wright, and Polychrome.
  • Foxes
  • Marmots
  • Wolves

Viewing Locations

Denali Park Road
Serpentine Park Road: Dall sheep
Savage River: Moose
Rile Creek Campground: Moose
Mount Wright: Dall sheep
Igloo Forest: Bears, wolves
Teklanika River: Bears, wolves
Sable Pass: Grizzly bears

When Should You Go?

Considering the northern location of Denali National Park, the best time of year to both visit the park and see the animals is during the summer. The core visiting season runs from June to September, when all facilities are open. However, if you are willing to brave the winter season, you are more likely to catch the migratory animals coming off of the mountains into the valleys to find warmth. You will most likely need a guide to access the animals safely in the colder months.