Friday, March 13, 2009

Road Crews Begin Plowing Denali Park Road

Spring is coming in Alaska! The American Alpine Institute just received the following email from Denali National Park:

On Monday, March 16 the National Park Service road crew will begin the annual operations to clear and prepare the Denali Park Road beyond park headquarters (Mile 3) for vehicle access by park visitors. They expect to encounter deeper snow and more drifting further out in the park than they have in recent years, due to reports from overflights and remote weather stations. Last week the Toklat station at Mile 53 was reporting 19 inches of snow, and there were 27 inches at Kantishna. In March 2008 the stations recorded four inches at Toklat and 21 inches at Kantishna.

This year it appears that crews will have less overflow ice to remove from the road. The new culverts and improvements made at Mile 4 – 4.5 last year have been successful in controlling the overflow that has historically built up on this section of road, which is just west of park headquarters.

In addition to removing the winter accumulation of snow and ice, road crew personnel must steam open culverts clogged with ice to prevent road damage caused by the runoff from melting snow and rain. They will also make repairs before opening the road for use by the public.

Updates and pictures of the spring road opening operation will be posted regularly on the park website at

Access to park areas west of headquarters for snowshoeing, mushing, cross-country skiing and other seasonal recreational activities is available on the Spring Trail, which runs south and parallel to the park road. The trailhead is located near the entrance to the park’s sled dog kennels. Visitors using the road should expect to encounter snow removal equipment. Please make certain the equipment operator is aware of your presence before attempting to go by.

Depending on the weather and road conditions, the park road could open for travel to the Savage River (Mile 15) by late March to early April, and to the Teklanika River Rest Stop (Mile 30) by mid to late April. Visitors are advised to call before their trip to confirm opening dates.

The Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) at Mile 1.3 is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily as the winter visitor center, providing information and backcountry permits. Ranger-led snowshoe hikes are taking place on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. through Sunday, March 29, conditions permitting.

The Riley Creek Campground at Mile 0.2 is open year-round, but water and sewer services will not be available until later in the spring. A vault toilet is provided for campers in the loop that is currently open, and water can be obtained at the MSLC.

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.

Additional park information can be obtained by calling (907) 683-9532 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily or on the web at

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