• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

Dog Friendly
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Winter backcountry camping at Wonder Lake is one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had in my entire life.

There are multiple ways to do this trip - ski, mush, or by flying in a bush plane and then meeting up with a group of mushers. I highly recommend doing ANY of them, but most likely you will need to assess your time, skill, and budget to decide what is best for you. The 2 most likely of the 3 will be with a plane or with dogs. People do make the trip on skis, but usually its a 2-3 week round trip (it's about an ~80 mile ski)

No matter how you take the trip you will need to start on the east side of Denali National Park at headquarters and one way or another make your way about 90 miles into the wilderness to Wonder Lake. From there you are free to explore in any direction and more than likely you will be the only ones out there. From Wonder Lake we skied a couple miles south to the McKinley River Bar Trail which serves as a good launching spot for exploring. In the winter...this area is a blank canvas, so my advice is to just color around to your heart's content.

If you're familiar with the terrain and area, then all the power to you to explore within the regulations of the park, however if this is your first visit or don't have a lot of experience navigating this type of terrain (especially in the winter) be sure to connect with a guide of some kind.

While out there we saw aurora, a herd of caribou, and other small animals including foxes and ptarmigan. I would recommend going in March because the temps are warming and the days are starting to get near 12 hours again. If you want to camp at Wonder Lake in the warmer months, check out this adventure.

Below are some helpful resources and images from Wonder Lake and Turle Hill:

Pack List

Skis/snowshoescamerafoodshovel4 season tent or tarp for snow cave-40ºF bag and padsFoodStovefuelWarm everything (socks, pants, jacket, gloves, hat, etc)SunglassesSun Screen

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Jacob W. Frank

Park ranger and photographer in Glacier National Park, MT. Happiest outdoors, camera in-hand.

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