Road Ecology Program
For over seventy years, the Denali Park Road has provided the primary access to Denali National Park and Preserve, facilitating wilderness recreational opportunities and supporting a sense of discovery, adventure, and a connection with nature.The Vehicle Management Plan (2012) is a tool that park managers use to ensure there is a balance between the demand for visitor opportunities to tour the road with the need to ensure that park resources are protected and visitors continue to have a safe, high-quality experience.
Interested in more information? Check out the Science and Scholarship Resources page to find more recommended resources about road ecology and other research topics from the park.
History of the Park Road
From the 1920's to the present the Denali Park Road has been an important method of connecting visitors with their National Park.
Park Road Capacity Study
Learn more about a study that Denali designed to optimize visitor experience along the park road while protecting wildlife.
Developing Indicators and Standards
Results from the road capacity study were used to select seven indicators of desired resource and visitor experience conditions.
Three of the indicators restrict the amount and timing of vehicle traffic to protect wildlife:
Three indicators set limits on vehicle crowding based on results of the visitor surveys:
Results were also used to set quantitative standards for each indicator to ensure that desired conditions are maintained. Meeting the standards means success in managing the park road for its natural ecology and visitor experience.
Download the Table of Indicators and Standards
Wildlife Viewing Subzones
Three wildlife viewing subzones were identified based visitor expectations for traffic conditions (see map below). The subzones are subject to different standards (subzone 1 is expected to have the most vehicle traffic and subzone 3 the least traffic).
Denali Park Road Vehicle Management Plan
The Denali Park Road Final Vehicle Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (VMP) was finalized and the Record of Decision signed by the Alaska NPS Regional Director in September 2012.
Implementation of the VMP is occurring in stages. During 2013-2015, park staff will develop the specific methods for implementing and reporting. Monitoring results will be reported to the public on an annual basis. Full implementation will occur when a new concessions contract to operate the park's public transportation system is in place and the special park regulations—to change the vehicle limit from 10,512 per year to 160 per day—are updated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
As park managers adjust traffic schedules to maximize access (daily number of vehicles), staff will monitor along the park road to ensure that Indicators do not exceed their standards. The strategy includes:
(1) monitoring the indicators and standards,
The VMP will guide management of vehicle traffic during the bus operating season for the next 15-20 years. Monitoring the indicators will help ensure the protection of the special character of the park road.