Denali National Park to Improve or Possibly Relocate Section of Main Park Road
Aerial view of Denali National Park’s Pretty Rocks area.
DENALI PARK—The National Park Service is actively working on options to improve the resiliency of Denali Park Road or possibly reroute a portion of the road at Pretty Rocks Landslide, located at mile marker 45.4, for the 2020 season. The park is coordinating closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to further evaluate the situation and develop alternatives to balance visitor safety, enjoyment and resource protection.
“The National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration have been monitoring the Pretty Rocks Landslide for decades. Visitor and resource safety remain our top priorities as we use this time to evaluate all options,” said Denali National Park Acting Superintendent Kathleen Przybylski. “While work may delay or temporarily restrict access past Pretty Rocks, we are committed to providing safe and exceptional visitor experiences while minimizing impacts to natural resources.”
The Pretty Rocks portion of the road has become increasingly unreliable and unpredictable in recent years. Prior to 2004, this portion of the Park Road only required light maintenance every two to three years. In 2004 the road began dropping approximately two feet per year, and since 2014 the rate of movement through this area has increased substantially, culminating in a measured drop of two inches a day during the 2019 season.
Working with the Federal Highway Administration, the park is currently considering several options to address the issue in both the short- and long-term, including reestablishing the road in its current location, spanning the Pretty Rocks portion with a bridge, or rerouting the Polychrome Bluffs portion of the road. Additional information about the current options and alternative is available on the park’s website.
Built in 1938, the 92-mile Denali Park Road is the main access route for visitors to Denali National Park. There is no other road access within the park.
Potential Impacts to Visitation
In the case of a delayed opening or Park Road closure at mile marker 43, access to the following sites would be restricted:
- Polychrome Overlook (mile marker 46)
- Toklat River Rest Stop (mile marker 53)
- Stony Hill Overlook (mile marker 62)
- Eielson Visitor Center (mile marker 66)
- Kantishna and Wonder Lake areas (mile marker 85 and beyond)
Visitor services would continue to operate in the entrance area of the park, including ranger-led hikes, interpretive programs, backcountry permitting, and the Denali kennels. Trails and campgrounds east of mile marker 43, which include the Riley Creek, Savage River, Sanctuary River, Teklanika River, and Igloo Creek campgrounds, will still be available. Some visitor services typically available west of mile marker 43 may be temporarily moved to the Teklanika Rest Stop at mile marker 30.
Additionally, the park is evaluating a plan that would allow buses operated by the park’s concessionaire, Doyon/Aramark Joint Venture, to continue to operate up to mile marker 43. A turnaround area is available near the East Fork Bridge that may permit buses to safely maneuver around and return east. The park is considering design options to prepare the site for high capacity use by buses with minimal impact on the landscape.
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