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Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
The Superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve has determined that there is adequate snow cover for the use of snowmobiles for traditional activities in areas of the 1980 park additions that are south of the crest of the Alaska Range, except for the park lands between the Bull River and Windy Creek at the north end of Broad Pass near the town of Cantwell. These areas do not have adequate snow cover.
All areas of the 1980 park additions north of the crest of the Alaska Range remain closed to snowmobile use for traditional activities due to inadequate snow cover. The minimal snowfall and recent unseasonably warm temperatures and high winds have delayed this opening.
Riders are reminded that all lands within the former Mount McKinley National Park on both the north and the south sides of the crest of the Alaska Range are closed to all snowmobile use by federal regulation. Maps with GPS coordinates for the park and preserve boundary are available on the park website at www.nps.gov/dena/parkmgmt/park-boundary-info.htm.
Overall, riding conditions are variable and snow depths are less than normal. It is the rider’s responsibility to avoid locations where wind or topographic conditions may have reduced snow depth and created situations where damage to vegetation or soils could occur, or where vegetation is taller than the protective snow cover.
Riding conditions are potentially very dangerous due to recent snowfall, high winds, and higher than normal temperatures. There are many areas of thin ice or open water and avalanche hazard could be high due to wind crusts and layers in the snow pack. It is important to avoid steep slopes, narrow valleys, and ravines.
Winter weather in the Alaska Range can change very quickly and become severe, with high winds and temperatures well below zero. Park rangers stress the importance of bringing survival gear on all trips into the backcountry and informing friends or relatives of your travel plans. Remember to assess local conditions before venturing into the backcountry.
Riders are also reminded that federal regulations require that riders do not:
- Frighten or intentionally disturb wildlife.
- Operate a snowmobile that makes excessive noise.
- Operate a snowmobile without a lighted white headlamp and red tail lamp ½ hour before and after sunrise/sunset or when persons and vehicles are not clearly visible for 500 feet.
- Operate a snowmobile in excess of 45 miles per hour or racing.
Snowmobile operators must be at least 16 years of age unless accompanied and supervised by a responsible person 21 years of age or older. The supervising rider must keep the other rider in sight and may not supervise more than one person at a time. Alaska State statutes also require that snowmobiles be registered and numbered. Riders must report accidents resulting in injury to or death of a person, or property damage, by the quickest means to park rangers.
The Murie Science and Learning Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. as the winter visitor center, providing visitor information and backcountry permits. Park information is also available on the web at www.nps.gov/dena or by calling park headquarters at (907) 683-2294 from 8:00 am. – 4:30 p.m. daily.