Kantishna and Wonder Lake Area Plan


When Can I Comment on the Plan?

The Kantishna and Wonder Lake Area Plan: Range of Proposals for Public Feedback in open for public comments from August 5 through October 31.

Park planning staff hosted the following public meetings to provide information and answer questions on the plan:

Wonder Lake

Wonder Lake Ranger Station
August 21, 2019, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Open House

Denali National Park

Murie Science and Learning Center
August 22, 2019, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Presentation at 6 p.m.
Conference line was available for remote attendees

Current Updates

A reference made in the Wonder Lake Area Plan used for social science data has been updated as follows:

Information with the reference of “Keller, R. 2018. Working Draft Backcountry Indicators of Visitor Experience in Denali National Park and Preserve: Backpackers, Natural Resources Report NPS/XXXX/NRR--20XX/XXXX, National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado”

now has a final report reference of

"Keller R and Toubman J. 2019. Backcountry Management Plan Indicator Reports by Management Area and Backcountry Unit in Denali National Park and Preserve, 2017-2018. National Park Service. DENA"

Links to this plan and other social science reports related to Kantishna can be found on IRMA:

Backcountry Management Plan Indicator Reports (has full report)


Backcountry Visitor Experience Survey Results

a person walking across a tree-less mountain top
Scouting the proposed Brooker Loop in the Kantishna Hills

NPS Photo / E. Buhr

What Happens Next?

Beyond finishing the draft plan and releasing it for public comment, the National Park Service is actively flagging proposed sites and trails in the Kantishna and Wonder Lake areas this summer. The intent is to hire contractors to complete required cultural and wetland surveys next summer.

Flagging is going in place this summer (2019) we determine the actual routes and corners of trails (and other areas) discussed in the plan. None of the flagging indicates that anything is being built. However, it should give people an idea of the scale of development being discussed in this plan. Our hope is that it will allow all stakeholders to explore the potential trails and areas of development, and make more informed comments to the plan in August 2019.

We are required by law to complete cultural and wetland surveys for any development being considered. These surveys will be conducted in the summer of 2020. This means flagging will remain up for two seasons (2019 & 2020). Flagging locations are being recorded by GPS to ensure that it is all removed when no longer needed.

The color and placement of the flagging is important and intended to be visible. This allows people to easily visualize the area being surveyed. The park has tried to mitigate impacts by only placing flagging on new development.

The next steps are for the park to:

  1. complete field surveys and reports
  2. collect public feedback on the plan (expected release in August 2019)
  3. conduct a visitor capacity workshop
  4. conduct operating cost analysis

The park will use the efforts above to create alternatives and select a preferred alternative. The plan will then be re-released in conjunction with the future compliance document—which will also then be open for public comment. No implementation can happen until this full compliance process is complete.

Learn more about the Planning and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Compliance Process

What’s in the Plan?

The draft plan currently covers a range of possibilities within different topics: management, visitor experience, guided services, and infrastructure. Each of these topics provides or supports additional recreational use in the Kantishna and Wonder Lake areas. A breakdown of what is considered in each of these topics is below:


  • Definition of the Kantishna and Wonder Lake area in terms of recreation (“analysis area”)

  • Desired conditions

  • Assessing the need for changes in management zones

  • Assessing the need for additional indicators and thresholds

Visitor Experience

  • Visitor Descriptions

  • Visitor Use Patterns

  • Supported Uses

  • Visitor Flow

  • Messaging

Guided Services

  • Existing and new uses

  • Allocation of use (based on total visitor capacity of the area)


  • Recreation Infrastructure – trails, roadside campground, backcountry campsites, rustic lodging, Wonder Lake day use area

  • Transportation Infrastructure – bus shelter, trailheads and parking, end of the road loop relocation, facilities and utilities to support a shuttle system

  • Administrative Infrastructure – site(s) for staff and transient housing, office space, maintenance facilities, parking, and storage

Additionally the plan proposes options for implementation, including prioritization of projects if they are retained in the compliance process, and how to manage the informal trail that are not included as part of the vision proposed. Implementation also considers monitoring, funding, and documenting resource and operational concerns.

Note again that this document is a planning tool offering a vision for public comment. It does not define a preferred alternative or provide any environmental analysis and so does not meet the requirements of a National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) compliance document.

This timeline and all information provided are subject to change.

brushy landscape leading up to a huge snowy mountain
The view from the proposed Washburn Trail

NPS Photo / E. Buhr

Contact Us

If you have questions, please email Emily Buhr, Outdoor Recreation Planner or call her at (907) 683-6242

Last updated: November 4, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


907 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am to 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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