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Contact: G.W. Hitchcock, Public Information Officer, (907) 683-9583
Denali National Park and Preserve will return the Denali Park Road to normal operation beginning at 5 a.m. on Friday, August 9, 2019. Crews have spent the day assessing various critical points along the road and believe the road is in a stable condition.
“Travel restrictions were not made because of any singular event, but out of an abundance of caution,” said Superintendent Don Striker. “Since August 1st, the Denali Park Road has experienced a number of rockfalls and debris slides beyond mile 30 that have periodically disrupted vehicle traffic, and given the weather forecast for the coming weeks, we wanted to be proactive about ensuring visitor safety and the road’s continued stability.”
Consistent and heavy precipitation the past several weeks has created a situation in which the road surface and surrounding soils have become overly saturated, posing an increased risk of landslides and debris flows. Weather stations in some parts of the park have been measuring rainfall as high as 12 inches over the last seven days.
“When the road reaches this condition, crews are spending most of their time solving problems and not managing future risks,” said Roads Foreman Paul Franke. “Allowing road crews the time and space to assess the entire road, means we feel more confident we can avoid a more damaging event that would have a larger impact on road access and visitor safety.”
Weather forecasts for the area call for continued rain in the coming weeks. Crews believe they are in a good position to ensure the road remains stable during this time.
“We feel confident in the current state of the road, but calls for more rain in the coming week means we’re facing a dynamic situation in which we may have to revisit restricting access along the road,” said Superintendent Striker. “Crews will work hard to try and prevent that from happening, but we ask that the public be flexible and consider exploring other areas of the park should this occur.”
The park will continue to release information as it becomes available, and any decision impacting the road will be announced as soon as possible. The public is encouraged to check our current conditions page any updates or alerts.
“We'd like to thank our Joint Venture partners for all their assistance in dealing with this closure,” said Superintendent Striker. “Though brief, these events can have a large impact on people, and Joint Venture did an excellent job of working with us to shuttle visitors to different areas of the park, adapting their tours and allowing people to still experience the open portion of the road, and making sure people who were out in the backcountry could be shuttled back to the entrance.”
While campgrounds are open, and there is access to all trails in the park, the public is advised that some trails have seen water damage and debris flows, and that rivers are flowing exceptionally high, making crossings potentially dangerous. Trail crews are working across the park to address these issues. Park Rangers are available at visitor contact areas to offer updated information on trail conditions, and offer assistance to visitors in planning their adventure.
Last updated: August 8, 2019