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Contact: G.W. Hitchcock, (907) 683-9583
Denali National Park and Preserve (Denali) is scaling up operations in preparation for the 2020 summer season. Park management has worked closely with federal, state and local authorities to create a phased approach to increasing public access and services, while closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following services and facilities will be available to the public beginning July 1:
- The Denali Visitor Center will operate daily from 9 am to 5 pm until September 23
- The Eielson Visitor Center will operate daily until September 22. Daily hours to be determined.
- Narrated tour and transit bus service. Once schedules are finalized in early June, reservations will be available through http://www.reservedenali.com. Initial plans are to operate buses at 50% capacity to allow for social distancing.
- Sanctuary River and Igloo Creek Campgrounds will open with bus service. Reservations can be made at http://www.reservedenali.com.
“We worked closely with local businesses and our Doyon/Aramark Joint Venture concessionaire to determine opening timelines,” said Denice Swanke, Acting Superintendent of Denali. “Despite so much uncertainty, July 1 was a date that everyone felt they could support and be ready to safely welcome the public."
Throughout the pandemic, park management has worked with the Department of Interior and the Office of Public Health to adhere to available public health guidance, while maintaining appropriate levels of recreational access to public lands. Stretches of the Denali Park Road (Park Road) have been opened as improving weather and road maintenance has allowed. The Park Road is currently open to the Teklanika Rest Stop (mile marker 30) for travel by private vehicles until June 1. All front country trails are accessible. The Bear and Wolf Loops of Riley Creek Campground are open for reservation. Savage River and Teklanika River Campgrounds will open June 16, along with the Riley Creek Mercantile.
The park plans to host its annual Road Lottery September 18 - 22, with September 19 being Military Appreciation Day. Lottery entries will be available for submission online at www.recreation.gov, from June 1 - 30.
Additional Public Access Options Available for 2020 SeasonAdditional options being explored include issuing permits for commercially-operated, guided vehicle tours for the 2020 season. The park is currently accepting applications for this commercial use authorization (CUA) opportunity, which is expected to run from July 1, to September 17. For more information, or to apply, visit the park’s CUA web page. Applications are due by June 4.
The park also plans to provide additional access to private vehicles through a reservation system beginning June 1. Using www.recreation.gov, the public will be able to reserve a time window on select dates for traveling the park road. Additional details will be released soon.
“With the cancellation of the summer cruise season, we expect to see fewer visitors this summer,” said Ms. Swanke. “We remain committed to the bus system, but fewer cruise ship visitors means we’ll be putting fewer buses on the road, so there will be some unused capacity that we want to make available to the public.”
“These additional access opportunities have been developed in line with the park’s current Vehicle Management Plan,” said Dave Schirokauer, Science and Resources Team Leader. “We believe these options will allow us maintain our commitment to protecting wildlife along the Park Road, while still providing a unique experience for the public and supporting local communities.”
Please Visit ResponsiblyThe health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. The park’s operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance. These facilities and services will be continually monitored during the COVID-19 pandemic. Operations will be adjusted as conditions change and new guidance becomes available. The park is working closely with the NPS Office of Public Health and using CDC guidance to ensure public spaces are safe and clean. Check out the most up-to-date information regarding Denali operations..
When visiting, the public should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, adhere to Alaska State Health Mandates, practice Leave No Trace principles, and avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities. Cloth face coverings are recommended where social distancing is not possible. People who are sick should stay home and not visit the park. The CDC has provided specific guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities. The public may also find guidance on the National Park Service’s COVID-19 Response webpage.
The public is encouraged to leave their pets at home when visiting the park. Pets may be walked on the Park Road, in parking lots, in campgrounds, and on the Roadside Trail and Bike Path, provided they are leashed. Please clean up after your pet and do not leave them unattended. Learn more about visiting Denali with a pet.
Last updated: May 27, 2020