Summer plans include more opportunities for local Alaskans
ANCHORAGE, Alaska –The National Park Service announced today that Denali National Park will once again be accessible to the public as it has opened a portion of the Denali Park Road effective immediately. The park has plans to continue opening more of the road in the very near future as conditions and staffing allow.
In support of recent updates to health mandates and travel restrictions issued by the state of Alaska, Denali has opened the Denali Park Road to the Mountain Vista Rest Area (mile marker 12).
“President Trump recognizes the magnificence and grandeur of our National Park System and our ability to restore access to these lands in a safe manner. The American people will once again be able to enjoy the incredible benefits of the great outdoors at Denali National Park,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.
“Alaskans are doing a great job flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “As of Friday, Alaska ranked lowest among the 50 states in total COVID-19 infections. As we work to re-open Alaska’s economy responsibly, resuming traffic on this beautiful road through one of the state’s top visitor attractions is a positive sign that we can be open for business, including the tourism business, while protecting public health. I want to thank President Trump and Interior Secretary Bernhardt for working with Alaska to safely reopen Denali Park Road into Alaska’s beautiful Denali National Park.”
“Denali National Park and Preserve looks forward to offering recreational opportunities to the public during these challenging times,” said Denice Swanke, Acting Park Superintendent. “We are considering several ways to offer more access for private vehicles and are collaborating with local business to offer different opportunities to enjoy the park. We encourage the public to practice proper social distancing and to adhere to the state’s travel guidance when they access their park lands.”
Acting Regional Director Don Striker added that the Park Service is examining additional “Road Lottery” options for the summer. “The decrease in commercial cruise traffic to Denali offers us the potential to safely allow more private vehicle access like we do during the annual September lottery that is so popular with Alaskans. We are actively working out the details to allow our neighbors to enjoy Denali all summer, which will also help the local economy.”
At the end of the park road, several Kantishna lodges are also making plans for being open this summer, and repairs to the road caused by the Pretty Rocks landslide are ongoing. The park continues to work with contractors at Pretty Rocks, and the NPS staff continues spring plowing operations, which are on schedule to get the road open for summer.
For now, the public will have access to all trails and open spaces along the park road, up to the Mountain Vista Rest Area, including the Riley Creek Day-Use Area. Park staff will also open and maintain restroom facilities for public use.
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, campgrounds and most visitor facilities are currently closed, and interpretive programs remain suspended. This includes the Winter Visitor Center, the Denali Kennels, Headquarters, and the Walter C. Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.
The public can find updates about NPS operations during this pandemic at www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about Denali, visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/dena or call the park’s information line at 907-683-9532.