Applying to Conduct Research in Denali



Conducting research in Denali is exciting, but also subject to permit conditions that you may not be used to from your scientific endeavors at non-federal sites. To learn more about your responsibilities as a principal investigator, refer to our Guide to Conducting Wilderness Research. Additionally, learn how your data, including field notes, pictures, and other products generated from your permitted research, is subject to NPS curatorial requirements.

Deadline (updated for 2024): November 1

Denali has an annual deadline for research permit applications so we may better assess cumulative impacts on park resources. For Denali staff to complete lawfully required assessments prior to the field season, your application is due no later than November 1 of the previous calendar year (e.g. November 1, 2024 is the deadline for the summer 2025 field season). Meeting this deadline is critically important to a timely review if any of the following apply to your proposed research:

  • Takes place wholly or partly within Wilderness (designated or eligible);
  • Involves ground disturbance (including soil samples);
  • Involves collection of specimens;
  • Involves establishing temporary or permanent installations (e.g. plot markers, animal collars, PIT tags, etc.);
  • Involves landing a helicopter or other aviation; OR
  • Other mechanized equipment.

Application Advice to Speed the Process

  1. Location, location, location! Be specific with where you intend to sample, dig, land a helicopter, etc. Without location, we cannot properly assess potential impacts to the resource. Lat and long are very useful!

  2. Provide more details: For any proposed action that could be considered an environmental impact (e.g., the bulleted list above), describe all relevant quantifiable metrics. For example, physical dimensions of installations, weights or volumes of soil and DNA samples, number and flight time of flights, the number of nights camping, number of field staff, point-to-point vs. base camping – these data streamline our ability to assess impacts and speed application processing. More on this below.

  3. If your proposal includes handling of vertebrates, have your project reviewed by the NPS Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and approved prior to your Denali application.

  4. If your proposal is related to a master's, doctoral, or other thesis, provide documentation of your committee's support.

  5. Respond to supplemental questions from Denali staff in a timely manner.


To conduct research at any national park, you must provide a study plan and complete an online research application. Completing the application automatically notifies NPS staff of a pending proposal.

The application provides an outline for a research proposal. The NPS basic outline for a study plan (proposal) should help streamline the review of your project. Each national park is different in how it reviews research proposals because each park has different resource concerns.

If you need additional assistance submitting a research permit application contact the research permit coordinator, William Clark.

General Tips for Writing Research Proposals

  1. Why in Denali?

    Specifically demonstrate why it is important to your research outcome that you conduct your research in Denali. Is the project dependent on a specific geographic location, habitat type or geologic setting unique to Denali? Does the project address a Denali-specific management or scientific problem?

  2. Provide Denali-specific information
    Submitting your NSF proposal, where you list desired work in many places, but give no specific information about your proposed work in Denali, will delay your project.

  3. Are you intending to collect specimens or objects? Be sure to read up on NPS curatorial requirements.

    • Think about why the collection of these specimens or objects is necessary for your project? Why does this collecting have to be done in Denali rather than somewhere else? What other alternatives to making new collections did you consider?
    • Where do you propose to collect? When? How many?
    • What kind of disturbance will take place as a result of sample removal? Why does the proposed collection not represent a significant impact to the park/wilderness? How do you intend to mitigate any disturbance?
    • Will the collections be destroyed in analysis? If not, where will they be stored? The proposed repository for specimens collected must be discussed with the park curator as part of the permit application process. What commitment do you have from the institution where you propose that they be stored that they are willing to curate specimens to NPS standards?

      All specimens collected for permanent retention, as well as their derivatives and byproducts, remain the property of the National Park Service. If you collect specimens that are to be permanently retained—regardless of where they are kept—those specimens must be accessioned and cataloged into the NPS Interior Collection Management Software (ICMS), and must bear NPS labels containing NPS accession and catalog numbers.

Last updated: May 21, 2024

Park footer

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.

Contact Us