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Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
A sure sign of spring in Denali National Park and Preserve is the opening of the park road beyond park headquarters. Weather conditions permitting, the road will open at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 27 so that park visitors can drive as far as the Savage River (Mile 15). Early spring offers enjoyable conditions for visiting the park, as there is still good snow coverage for mushing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, coupled with milder temperatures and long days. Mount McKinley, or Denali, is potentially visible from approximately Mile 9 until the road gets close to the Savage River.
Visitors should expect to encounter snow and ice on shaded sections of the park road until overnight temperatures remain above freezing. Motorists are also advised to be alert for National Park Service personnel steaming culverts along the side of the road, and for heavy equipment being used in the road opening operations.
Weather conditions can change rapidly at this time of the year, and the road may open and close several times. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead for updated road and weather information. The National Park Service expects to open the road to the Teklanika River Rest Stop (Mile 30) later in April. For those interested in following the progress of the Denali road crew as they plow westward along the 90 mile park road to Kantishna, timely updates and a photo gallery are posted on the park website at http://www.nps.gov/dena/spring-road-opening.htm.
Vault toilets in the parking areas on the east and west sides of the Savage River will be open for use, and temporary portable toilets will be available in the new rest area east of the Savage River Campground . Other facilities west of park headquarters will remain closed until later this spring.
The Riley Creek Campground at Mile 0.2 is open, and camping is free until May 15. A vault toilet is provided in the loop that remains open year-round, and campers can obtain water at the Murie Science and Learning Center. Water and sewer services will not be available until mid to late May.
The Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) at Mile 1.3 is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for visitor information and backcountry permits. The last ranger-led weekend snowshoe walk of the season will start at the MSLC on Sunday, March 28 at 1:00 p.m. Snowshoes will continue to be available for park visitor use as long as snow conditions allow.
Denali National Park and Preserve collects an entrance fee year-round. The entrance fee of $10 per person or $20 per vehicle is good for seven days. The majority of the money collected remains in the park to be 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 and can be purchased at the MSLC.
Additional park information is available on the web at www.nps.gov/dena or by calling (907) 683-2294 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.