Denali Park Road to Open to Savage River on Friday, March 28
Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
Snow and ice still blanket most of the park, but a sure sign of spring is that the Denali National Park and Preserve road crew has cleared the park road between park headquarters (Mile 3) to the Savage River (Mile 15). Weather permitting, that portion of the road will open to park visitors for the season at noon on Friday, March 28.
The crew is now working in the Teklanika River Campground (Mile 29). When they arrived there on Monday, they discovered that the river had jumped its banks and deposited overflow ice throughout the campground, covering roads, campsites, and most of the vault toilets to a depth of approximately 2-3 feet. This is the first time that road crew supervisors and other park staff who have participated in more than 25 years of spring road openings have encountered this amount of ice within the campground boundaries. Crews will make every effort to remove the ice from roads and campsites, but the opening date of the campground may be effected because of ice in the buildings and water system.
Early spring offers enjoyable conditions for visiting the park, as there is still good snow coverage for mushing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, coupled with milder temperatures and long days. Mount McKinley, or Denali, is visible, clouds permitting, from approximately Mile 9 until the road drops down to the Savage River.
Visitors should expect to encounter snow and ice on shaded sections of the park road until overnight temperatures remain above freezing. Motorists are also advised to be alert for National Park Service personnel steaming culverts along the side of the road, and for heavy equipment being used in the road opening operations.
Weather conditions can change rapidly at this time of the year, and the road may open and close several times this spring. Call ahead for updated road and weather information. The National Park Service expects to open the road to the Teklanika River Rest Stop (Mile 30) to park visitors by mid April.
Vault toilets in the parking areas on the east and west sides of the Savage River will be open for use, but other park facilities west of park headquarters will remain closed until later this spring. The Murie Science and Learning Center at Mile 1.3 is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for visitor information and backcountry permits. The Riley Creek Campground at Mile 0.2 is open for free camping, but water and sewer services will not be available until May. A vault toilet is provided in the loop that remains open year-round, and campers can obtain water at the Murie Science and Learning Center.
Additional park information is available on the web at www.nps.gov/dena or by calling (907) 683-2294 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Did You Know?
Warmer temperatures have led to dramatic thawing of permafrost. Thaw releases carbon, as once-frozen materials decompose, but allows increased plant growth. Researchers in Denali are studying whether thawing permafrost will increase or decrease world-wide carbon emissions.