Applying to Conduct Research in Denali



While conducting research on federal lands and wilderness areas is exciting, it is also subject to conditions and responsibilities than you may not be used to from scientific endeavors at other, non-federal sites. To learn more about your responsibilities, refer to our Guide to Conducting Wilderness Research and how our curatorial requirements relate to your data, field notes, pictures, and other products generated from your research.


Denali has an annual deadline for research permit requests to help us better assess cumulative impacts of research on park resources. Your research application is due no later than March 31 if your proposed research project would include any of the following:
  • Wholly or partly take place within Wilderness (designated or eligible);
  • Involve ground disturbance (including soil samples);
  • Involve collection of specimens;
  • Involve establishing temporary or permanent installations (e.g. plot stakes, animal collars, PIT tags etc.); OR
  • Involve aviation (helicopter, fixed-wing, or unmanned aerial systems) or other mechanized equipment.
An interdisciplinary team will review summer permits by mid-April each year and communicate decisions shortly thereafter.
If your permit request includes handling of vertebrates, your project must be reviewed by the NPS Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).


To conduct research at any national park, you need to provide a study plan and complete an online research application.

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

The following tips will help you to provide the best information and minimize the time to review your proposal.

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.

Specific Tips for Writing Research Proposals

  1. Study site information
    Where in Denali would your work occur? Be specific. Provide a map and GPS locations (if known).
  2. Logistics and park assistance
    Are you requesting to use a private vehicle for access on the Denali Park Road rather than the Visitor Transportation System (VTS) shuttle bus? You must demonstrate why the shuttle bus system is inadequate for your use.

    Do you intend to spend nights in the backcountry (camping)? Permits are required. If so, how many people? When? Where? How many days?
  3. Equipment, sampling, marking, and collections
    Are you requesting to temporarily or permanently mark study sites? If so, justify why this is necessary. What other alternatives were considered, and why won’t they work? Where exactly will you place markers? How long? How many? What type of marker? What color?

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

    Why is the collection of these specimens or objects absolutely needed for your project? Why does this collecting have to be done in Denali, why can’t you use reference specimens from 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: March 24, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am—4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to 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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