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Travel: Denali National Park finalizes new roads plan

Traffic limits shift from seasonal to daily

Denali and Wonder Lake. Photo courtesy NPS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Motorized visitors to Denali National Park will be facing a new set of rules next summer, as the National Park Service has updated a road vehicle management plan that dates back to 1986 (with a 1997 amendment).

The big change is a switch from seasonal to daily limits for all vehicles, including buses, park service vehicles and contractors, traveling on the controlled portion of the park road. Under the new plan no more than 160 vehicles will be allowed beyond the Savage River Check Station each day. Previously, only buses had daily limits.

The plan incorporates an adaptive management strategy that involves regular monitoring to assess whether the plan meets park standards, including the quality of wildlife viewing, identified by guests a a major reason for visiting the park. The daily number of vehicles could be cut back even more based on the results of monitoring.

The plan has been four years in the making, with multiple public meetings and more than 800 written comments on a draft version.

“We appreciate the high level of public participation and engagement that occurred during the development of this new plan,” said acting superintendent Elwood Lynn. “The contributions of the public and the researchers who gathered the significant volume of scientific data utilized during the plan’s development make this the best informed plan ever produced by Denali National Park and Preserve.”

A new management subzone on the Park Road will be created west of Eielson Visitor Center to Wonder Lake. This section will be managed for the lowest traffic volume on the Park Road and will not allow for significant growth beyond the current condition, in order to further preserve wilderness resource values and the visitor experience.

The park service will also explore the use alternative-fuel vehicles, possibly addressing the issue when it solicits new bids for concession services in the park.

The new plan also combines professional photography and filming programs to provide more equity in permit distribution. The park service will issue up to five permits per day for the entire road, provided photographer vehicles do not displace buses or administrative traffic. Permits will be reduced as necessary to avoid displacement of visitor opportunities and administrative functions.

The official ROD notice in the Federal Register is forthcoming. Copies of the final plan and the Record of Decision are available. Hard copies or CDs can be obtained by contacting the park at 907-683-2294, via email or by writing to:

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