Access limited beyond mile 43 in 2022
Denali Park, Alaska – Denali National Park and Preserve announced earlier this month that about half of the 92-mile Denali Park Road will remain closed for the 2022 visitor season. Most of Denali National Park and Preserve will remain open for visitors, and buses will continue to provide access to mile 43 of the Denali Park Road. The long-term solution is a permanent bridge over the slide area, originally planned for 2023. The NPS and the Federal Highways Administration have been working to identify funding and contracting opportunities to accelerate the overall project schedule into 2022 and complete the permanent bridge earlier than initially planned.
“We look forward to getting started on the long-term solution at Pretty Rocks. Meanwhile, Denali is ready for visitors in 2022. We will continue to have access to great wildlife viewing, views of Denali, front-country trails, and backcountry hiking and camping,” said Brooke Merrell, deputy superintendent. “Denali National Park and Preserve will continue to work with inholders, neighbors, and partners to ensure an unforgettable Denali experience during construction.”
During the 1990s, the Pretty Rocks landslide caused small cracks in the road surface, increasing to three and a half inches per day by 2020. With warming temperatures and increased precipitation trends, by 2021 the slide was moving at a rate of over .65 inches per hour. On August 24, 2021, the NPS determined that it could no longer maintain a safe road surface at that accelerated rate of movement and the road was closed to traffic past mile 43. Since the NPS stopped maintaining the road on September 6, 2021, the roadbed has slumped approximately 30 feet, already exceeding the total movement seen from October 2020 to March of 2021. Given the acceleration trend, the NPS expects landslide movement over this winter will exceed the park’s ability to restore or maintain the road surface to safely allow for bus traffic.
The potential availability of 2022 funding allows the park to take advantage of a “design and build” engineering solution with construction beginning in 2022. Accelerating the overall project schedule may allow for the return of a full season much earlier than projected.
Please visit go.nps.gov/PrettyRocks for more information about the Pretty Rocks Landslide and the park’s plan to address the issue.