Denali National Park’s kennel sled dogs celebrated their centennial this week with a historic trip to an island in the Tanana River. This is where the park’s very first sled dogs came from, creating the park’s kennels 100 years ago.
Harry Karstens, superintendent of what was then known as Mount McKinley National Park, worked from temporary headquarters at Nenana as it had both rail and telegraph service. He traveled from Nenana to Hadley Island and purchased seven sled dogs for $45 each.
Dogs were his main means of transportation in winter. They helped patrol Denali National Park and carried supplies to build remote cabins.
This week, two Denali dog teams traced that journey from Nenana to Hadley Island, more than 20 miles north on the Tanana River. Along the way, they had the opportunity to visit a remote partner kennel on the Tanana River, owned and operated by the Jonas family.
“The overall health of Denali sled dogs depends on our ability to have diverse genetics in our dogs, and that depends on a breeding program that partners with other kennels with Alaskan-style huskies. similar cargo,” according to Denali National Park.
The sled dog kennels in Denali are a popular destination for park visitors. The kennels are currently open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
It is the only operating sled dog kennel in the national park system.