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Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583
Mild spring weather and low snow and ice levels have helped the efforts of the National Park Service to open the park road further west for access by park visitors. The portion of the Denali Park Road between the Savage River (Mile 15) and the Teklanika River Rest Area at Mile 30 will open for travel by private vehicles at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, weather permitting. This could be one of the earliest openings of the road to this point since the early 1980s. Weather can change rapidly in the spring, and visitors are encouraged to call for updated road status before traveling to the park.
Snow conditions have deteriorated, but there is still good snow for skiing on north-facing slopes. Visitors have reported sightings of lynx, caribou, and moose along the first 15 miles of the park road. There have been no bear sightings yet this season, although park employees saw tracks in late March.
Motorists should expect to encounter snow, ice, and mud on some portions of the road, particularly shaded areas. Please be alert for heavy equipment used on road opening operations and park personnel working on the edges of the road. There are toilets for visitor use at the new rest area east of the Savage River Campground, the parking lot on the east side of the Savage River, and the Teklanika River Rest Area. Only half of the Teklanika Rest Area parking will be available for visitor use. The remainder has construction materials staged for the upcoming rehabilitation of the rest area, which will include replacement of the chemical toilets with vault toilets.
The park road will be open to Mile 30 through April, and possibly longer. Construction on the Teklanika Rest Area will be initiated sometime after May 1. When construction begins, or on Saturday, May 15 at the latest, the rest area will be closed and the park road will be open only to Mile 25 (large pullout on the north side of the road). This is the site of a temporary rest area which will be used until work on the Teklanika Rest Area is completed.
On Thursday, May 20 the shuttle bus system will begin operations for the summer season, providing access beyond the Savage River as far west as the Toklat River (Mile 53). Bus access to points further west will be available in June. The first fifteen miles of the park road will remain open to park visitors in private vehicles throughout the summer season.
Visitor information and backcountry permits are available at the Murie Science and Learning Center (Mile 1.3) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. The Riley Creek Campground is open for free camping until May 15, but water and sewer services are currently not available. A vault toilet is provided for campers in the open loop, and water can be obtained at the Murie Science and Learning Center. Other facilities west of park headquarters, including campgrounds, are scheduled to open in mid-May.
Denali National Park and Preserve collects an entrance fee year-round. The entrance fee of $10 per person or $20 per vehicle is valid for seven days. The majority of the money collected remains in the park, and is used for projects to improve visitor services and facilities. Interagency Federal Recreation Passes such as the Annual, Senior, and Access Pass, and the Denali Annual Pass are also valid for entry into the park. Visitors can pay entrance fees and purchase passes at the Murie Science and Learning Center.
Additional information can be obtained by calling the park at (907) 683-2294 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily or on the web at www.nps.gov/dena.