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Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
DENALI PARK, Alaska:The National Park Service will provide the opportunity for up to 400 active members of the military and their families to drive the Denali Park Road on Tuesday, September16 as part of a "Military Appreciation Day" to recognize and thank these individuals for their contributions to the nation. If weather permits, the road could be open for its entire 92-mile length, offering exceptional opportunities for experiencing the heart of the park.
The permits will be distributed to military personnel stationed in Alaska through their internal channels. The guidelines for driving the road, observing, and photographing wildlife will be the same as for the four days of the fall road lottery.The National Park Service will have staff at various points along the park road to help ensure that these special visitors have an enjoyable and safe visit to the park.
Camping, road lottery, and entry fees will be waived for active members of the military on that day. The free annual U.S. Military Pass, which is for U.S. military members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Reserve and National Guard (and their dependents), will be available at the Denali Visitor Center for use in future visits. Please have a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID (Form 1173).
The park will have many facilities and services available for its military guests and other park visitors. The Toklat Contact Station, Denali Visitor Center, Denali Bookstore, Morino Grill, andBackcountry Information Center will be open. The award-winning park film, "Heartbeats of Denali" will be shown in the visitor center theater on a regular basis, and a variety of interpretive programs, including the 2:00 pm sled dog demonstration, will be offered.
"Denali has a history as a place of recreation for America's military, and other national parks around the country tell the story of America's history and its conflicts. We are honored to host the men and women who are serving our nation, and we thank Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture, Alaska Geographic, and our other partners for their support of Military Appreciation Day," said Superintendent Don Striker.
Many businesses outside the park and in the local communities will be open, and several are offering special rates for members of the military and their families. These include the Denali and Mt. McKinley Princess Lodges and the McKinley Chalet Resort (www.princesslodges.com andwww.westmarkhotels.com). For a list of additional businesses in local communities that will be open, with some providing military discounts, email us.
"Princess Cruises and Holland America Lines are honored to work with the people at Denali National Park by providing a discount for our military and their families to stay at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and McKinley Chalet Resort," said Bruce Bustamante, Princess Cruises Vice President of Community and Public Affairs. "We have a long history of supporting many programs for Alaska's military, and this is our way of saying thank you to the military community for their years of commitment and the sacrifices they make for our country."
Historically, the park has been a place of respite and relaxation for members of the military. During World War II, the park and the McKinley Park Hotel (located near the site of the Denali Visitor Center) were used as a recreation site for soldiers during their seven-day furloughs. During the peak year of 1943, 6,000-8,000 men would pile off the train each month to enjoy activities such as fishing, hiking and horseback expeditions. Winter activities included downhill skiing at a small ski slope near park headquarters, ice skating, cross- country skiing and dog mushing.
The park road will beaccessible to the Savage River (Mile 15) for all other members of the public on Tuesday, September 16. Tundra Wilderness Tours to the Teklanika Rest Area (Mile 30) and Denali Natural History Tours that go as far as Primrose Ridge (Mile 17) will also be available on that day.
If the weather cooperates the park road will be open for travel by private vehicles to the Teklanika Rest Area at Mile 30, beginning Wednesday, September 17 until snow closes it for the season at park headquarters (Mile 3).
Additional park information is available by calling (907) 683-9532 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. Stay connected with "DenaliNPS" on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes.