Operating Hours & Seasons
The spring "shoulder" season in any year is dictated by weather. Road plowing will begin sometime in March, ideally offering access by private vehicle into the park by mid April. Contact us in late winter to learn more or follow our spring road opening updates.
Summer is the main visiting season. Summer bus service begins May 20 each year, although the entire road is not accessible by bus until June 8. Shuttle buses operate through the second Thursday after Labor Day each year. Thus, shuttle bus service ends:
September 12, 2013
September 11, 2014
September 17, 2015, etc.
Most summer visitor services and activities are available between late May and early September. During this time, the park's main visitor center is open daily, 8 am - 6 pm.
The annual Road Lottery event always occurs the weekend (Friday through Monday) after shuttle buses conclude. Reference the above shuttle season end dates to calculate lottery dates for the next few years. Applications to the lottery are accepted in the month of June each year, for that season's lottery.
The fall season, when all private vehicles may drive up to 30 miles into the park - weather permitting - begins the day after the Denali Road Lottery each year. The fall driving season will last until snow closes the road. It is always a good idea to contact us in fall to get an update on conditions before traveling to the park.
Once significant snow falls, the road may frequently close at Mile 3, Park Headquarters. The first snow may fall in July or August, but true winter doesn't set in until September or October. At that point, winter activities become possible, like skiing or dog mushing. The winter visitor center is open daily, except major holidays, 9 am - 4 pm.
Starting in February, 2014, the park will begin a test period of plowing the Denali Park Road as far as Mile 12.5, the Mountain Vista Rest Area. This is a beautiful spot, with views of Mount McKinley during clear weather; but beware that rapid changes in weather can result in temporary closures at Park Headquarters.
Deciding When to Visit
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.