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Contact: G.W. Hitchcock, (907) 683-9583
The National Park Service (NPS) has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) regarding winter and shoulder season visitor services at Denali National Park and Reserve (Denali). This EA proposes management actions and limited infrastructure to facilitate visitor access and opportunities during the winter and shoulder seasons, approximately mid-September to mid-May.
Actions proposed in this EA are:
- Allow private vehicle access to the Denali Park Road (Park Road) west of Headquarters to the Teklanika rest area after the first winter weather event of the fall
- Plow a portion of the Park Road during winter months, up to approximately mile 12 beginning in February
- Install a seasonal footbridge near Mountain Vista to facilitate access to traditional winter routes
- Create a connector trail for mushing access at the Mountain Vista rest area
- Allow commercial guiding for non-motorized winter recreation in some areas of the Denali wilderness
- Groom trails in the park entrance area, and potential trails in the Nenana River area
- Allow concessioner transit and tour bus service starting May 10
- Allow parking on the Park Road west of the Savage River for private vehicles during the shoulder seasons
- Open the Savage River and Teklanika campgrounds earlier in the spring and leave them open later into the fall
- Install facilities at the Teklanika rest area including parking lines, signs, and informational kiosks
- Adopt desired conditions described in the 2019 Winter and Shoulder Season Plan
Members of the public are invited to provide comments on the EA. Written comments may be submitted online on the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) site and should be submitted by June 30, 2020. Although PEPC is the preferred method for comment submission, comments may also be mailed to the park by June 30. The mailing address for comments is:
Denali National Park
P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755
Register for an informational webinar about the EA that will be held Thursday, June 11 at 6 pm Alaska Time, via GoToWebinar. Live captioning for the webinar will be available..
Denali receives most of its visitors during the summer, but the park is open year-round and visitation in the off-season has grown markedly. Visitation between October and April has increased approximately 400 percent in recent years, while annual visitation during the same period increased much less dramatically, by approximately 17 percent. Park Planner Jennifer Johnston described the purpose of Denali’s Winter and Shoulder Season Visitor Services EA in relation to these changes: “Visitation in the off-season has increased across Alaska, and Denali is no exception. These changes prompted the park to take another look at what we offer to visitors at this time of year, and this EA describes the actions the park would like to take to continue providing exceptional visitor experiences without detracting from what makes these seasons in the park special in the first place.”
The Winter and Shoulder Season Visitor Services EA builds on ideas generated during the 2018-2019 winter and shoulder season planning effort and described in the 2019 Winter and Shoulder Season Plan. The NPS anticipates issuing a final decision document this fall, and beginning to implement approved actions during the 2020-2021 winter and shoulder seasons.
Learn more about the Winter and Shoulder Season Visitor Services EA or contact Jennifer Johnston, Outdoor Recreation Planner.
Last updated: June 1, 2020