Current Conditions

 

Learn and Explore

Visiting Denali during a pandemic is going to be a little bit confusing!

Most park operations (e.g., when visitor centers, campgrounds, and other facilities are open) will be changed from normal years. Certain facilities will be closed to the public, while other facilities will have adjusted hours and seasons.

 

Park Operations Altered Due to COVID-19

Below is a list of information pertinent to trip planners in summer 2020. If you encounter discrepancies between other parts of our website and this information, go with what you see below. This supercedes all other trip planning information during this pandemic.

Visitor Centers

  • Denali Visitor Center tentatively planned to open July 1, 9 am to 5 pm daily. It will close on September 23.
  • Eielson Visitor Center tentatively planned to open July 1 through September 22, the end of the Denali Road Lottery. Its daily hours are to be determined.
  • The Murie Science and Learning Center will not open this summer.
  • The sled dog kennels will likely be closed to visitors this summer.

Entrance Fees & Passes

Beginning June 1st, entrance fees to Denali are required. Visitors can learn about fees & passes in Denali and pay their park entrance fees online before arrival, or after their trip is completed. Please note that during the month of June, the only option to pay your park entrance fee is by doing so online.

Campgrounds

Campers are asked to do their part in maintaining social distancing. Bring all supplies for adequate sanitation. It is the responsibility of each camper to understand current Alaska State Health Mandates and their applicability to visitors' camping experience.

Reservations for all campgrounds, when open, can be made through www.reservedenali.com.

Please remember to:

  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick
  • Practice social distancing. Stay six feet or more away from people who aren't traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. If water not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • When possible, avoid touching surfaces
  • Bear and Wolf Loops will open May 22
  • Riley Creek Mercantile (adjacent to CG) will open June 16
  • Caribou Loop closed for utility replacements through early July
Savage will open June 16. As usual, private vehicles may drive here.
Teklanika Campground (54 sites) will open for private vehicle use June 16. As usual, people driving to this campground will need to make a minimum reservation of 3 nights. Teklanika will open to bus access July 1. The three-night minimum does not apply to people arriving by bus.
Sanctuary and Igloo (7 sites each) will open with camper bus service July 1
Wonder Lake may not open for 2020 (still TBD)
 

Narrated Tours & Transit Buses

 

Private Vehicle Access on the Denali Park Road

The park’s tour and transit bus system capacity is greatly reduced due to COVID-19. As a result, the park will implement a timed-entry road permit reservation system to allow some private vehicles to travel the restricted portion of the Denali Park Road.

This 2020 offering will allow for additional access beyond the very limited transit and tour bus schedule and complies with CDC social distancing guidelines. Driving the Denali Park Road is a unique opportunity and not to be undertaken lightly. Visitors will traverse a winding, gravel road that is one to one-and-a half lanes wide at some spots. There are steep slopes, no cell service and limited access to facilities. Please be aware you’ll be sharing the road with buses and heavy equipment.

As in years past, any visitor may drive to Savage River (Mile 15 of the Denali Park Road) in their own private, non-commercial vehicle; no reservation or permit is necessary. Visitors may drive to Savage any time of the day or night, although camping is only permitted in designated campgrounds, with a valid reservation.

If parking is full, go to Mountain Vista (Mile 12) for a view of Denali and access to trails.
Throughout June, the public may purchase a permit through recreation.gov to drive the Denali Park Road as far as Teklanika River, Mile 30.

Go to recreation.gov now to book your permit

Details About Purchasing a Driving Permit
The park's Vehicle Management Plan has very specific standards related to summer traffic on the park's sole road. These standards are meant to ensure visitors have a high quality wilderness experience, and to also ensure wildlife near the road have periods of time with limited or no traffic impacting their natural behavior.

Thus, the following information is important to keep in mind when planning a drive into the park:
  • A limited number of permits are available each day. You may purchase your permit up to two weeks before your visit.
  • Permits are non-transferrable. An individual can purchase only one permit per day. The permit holder must be in the vehicle at the time of entry. There are no same-day sales.
  • Entering the park
    The permit will include a 45 minute window of time (e.g., "9 am to 9:45 am"). This window is when you may begin driving past Savage River (Mile 15). If you arrive at Savage River in the last 15 minutes of the hour, you will be asked to park and wait until the next window opens at the top of the hour—e.g., if your permit allowed you to drive past Savage River any time between 9 am to 9:45 am, but you arrive at Savage River at 9:52 am, you'll be asked to wait until 10 am.
  • Leaving the park
    Your road permit expires at 10 pm, so you must be back at Savage River (or further east, nearer to the park entrance) no later than 10 pm.
  • Parking along the road
    You may temporarily park at any pull-out or rest area along the road to day-hike. You may not park in the road or on road shoulders. Backpacking is possible during this time as well, with a valid backcountry camping permit. Buy a road permit for the same day you plan to begin your backpacking trip, and our backcountry rangers will help you figure out where along the road you can park to begin your trip.

Five weekends in summer 2020 will see a special opportunity for a limited number of private vehicles to purchase a permit to drive to Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66).

Within two weeks of the dates listed below, you can go to recreation.gov to book your permit. (Note: If you go to that site too early, it will appear as if no permits are available).

Availability:
  • July 10–12
  • July 24–26.
  • August 7–9
  • August 21–23
  • September 4–7
Buses will be operating on the park road during this time.

Details About Purchasing a Driving Permit
The park's Vehicle Management Plan has very specific standards related to summer traffic on the park's sole road. These standards are meant to ensure visitors have a high quality wilderness experience, and to also ensure wildlife near the road have periods of time with limited or no traffic impacting their natural behavior.

Thus, the following information is important to keep in mind when planning a drive into the park:
  • A limited number of permits are available each day. You may purchase your permit up to two weeks before your visit.
  • Permits are non-transferrable. An individual can purchase only one permit per day. The permit holder must be in the vehicle at the time of entry. There are no same-day sales.
  • Vehicles used to drive beyond Savage River (Mile 15) must be 22 feet or less in length.
  • Entering the park
    The permit will include a 45 minute window of time (e.g., "9 am to 9:45 am"). This window is when you may begin driving past Savage River (Mile 15). If you arrive at Savage River more than five minutes after your scheduled entry time, you will be asked to park and wait until the next window opens—e.g., if your permit allowed you to drive past Savage River any time between 9 am to 9:45 am, but you arrive at Savage River at 9:52 am, you'll be asked to wait until 10 am.
  • Leaving the park
    Your road permit expires at 9 pm, so you must be back at Savage River (or further east, nearer to the park entrance) no later than 9 pm.
  • Parking along the road
    You may temporarily park at certain pull-outs, and any rest room stop, along the road to day-hike. Pull-outs will be marked with no parking signs if they are not available to use. Backpacking is possible only by bus during this time, with a valid backcountry camping permit.
The annual September Road Lottery will occur on its usual dates (the second weekend after Labor Day), with Military Appreciation Day September 19. Please apply to the lottery between June 1 to June 30, 2020.
 

Frequently Asked Questions and Trip Planning Info for Permit Holders

All permit-holders should watch the "Rules for Driving the Denali Road" video. The park road is mountainous, narrow and mostly dirt / gravel, with very soft shoulders. If you get into an accident on the road, you'll incur significant expense in paying for a wrecker to drive all the way into the park to help you. Also note that there are no gas stations in the park—plan accordingly.

As mentioned above, all permit-holders should watch the "Rules for Driving the Denali Road" video. We will briefly remind you of the driving rules when you pick up your permit in the park, and your permit has the most important rules listed on it as yet another reminder. Additional vehicle info is lower on this page, in the FAQ section.

Please drive slowly when encountering hikers or bikers on the road, to avoid choking them with road dust.
Vehicles traveling the Denali Park Road with an Eielson Permit must be within the following maximum dimensions: 22' long x 8' wide x 12' high. This is inclusive of side mirrors and bumpers, and is strictly enforced at the Savage River Check Station (mile 15). These size restrictions do not apply to Teklanika Permits. Trailers or towed vehicles are not allowed with either permit. Trailers or towed vehicles may be parked at the Riley Creek Day Use Area for the day, or at your campground if you have a campground reservation.

Oversize traffic (i.e., larger than the dimensions mentioned above) is only let through Savage River Check Station (Mile 15) for the Teklanika Permit (June 1-30) or if the vehicle is bound for Teklanika Campground. Have your campground permit in hand when you arrive at Savage River Check Station.

If you have a road permit, you can drive any non-commercial, street-legal vehicle, which is smaller than the aforementioned maximum size dimensions—including motorcycles.

Warning: The NPS does not tow private vehicles. If you break down or your car finds itself off of the road somehow, you will have to hire a tow company from outside of the park to come and retrieve you. This will probably be extremely expensive, so please bring at least one full-size spare tire and pay close attention to soft shoulders on the dirt road!
Temporary stops to view wildlife are allowed; however, exiting the vehicle during a wildlife viewing stop is not permitted.

Be smart around animals, especially moose and bears. When viewing wildlife, stay in your vehicle. If hiking or biking, get no closer than 25 yards to any animal, except bears—get no closer than 300 yards to black or grizzly bears! Back up or get back into your car if any animal approaches closer than the distances mentioned above. Even seemingly mild-mannered animals like Dall sheep can seriously injure someone if they feel threatened by people being too close.

Please also remember to stay quiet when viewing wildlife. Do not be the rude person who scares away an animal, ruining the experience for dozens of other eager wildlife watchers. Many animals are used to the sound of engines, as they typically hear buses all summer long, but are unused to human voices.

Finally, there is no cell or data network coverage in the park past the visitor center. Park staff drive the road during lottery and have radios, should you have an emergency. Learn more about wildlife viewing and safety

Please bring all the food you will need for your trip. The only locations inside the park to purchase food and beverages are at in the first three miles of the Park Road at the Riley Creek Mercantile and Morino Grill, both of which will not open until July.

Three park campgrounds will be open (Riley, Savage and Teklanika). Reservations should be made in advance, via www.reservedenali.com.

Backpackers must have a backcountry permit. Learn more about backpacking in Denali.

There are no NPS-run hotels in the park—if you do not wish to camp, consider starting with the local Chamber of Commerce as you search for accommodations outside of the park.

Parking
You will receive a map with parking areas, picnic spots, and bathroom locations when checking in. Parking in these designated parking areas along the park road is recommended, but private vehicle drivers will be allowed to park at any pull-out or wide section of the road that is not marked as closed. Vehicles may not be parked on the road or road shoulder.

No overnight parking is allowed without a backcountry camping permit.

Hiking & Backpacking
Day-hiking is allowed, and drivers are encouraged to park in designated parking areas. Examples of designated parking areas are pullouts or rest areas where parked vehicles may be fully out of the traffic flow.

Backpacking is permitted with a valid backcountry permit. From June 1–30, backpackers should book their vehicle permit for the first day of their planned backcountry trip. From July through September, backpacking must be paired with bus access—there will be no overnight parking options on the park road, so you cannot pair a backpacking trip with an Eielson Permit.

Learn more about backpacking in Denali.

Pets (that fit inside your vehicle) are welcome. However, please note that a pet that impacts wildlife behavior—like a dog barking at a moose as you pause to view it from the road—is unacceptable. If your pet disturbs wildlife when you pause to view said animal(s), you must continue driving to prevent your pet from harassing wildlife. Your road travel permit can be revoked if you (or your pet) harass wildlife. 

Pets must be leashed (6' or shorter leash) at all times. Pets may be walked on the park road, in parking lots, or on campground roads. You must clean up your pet's waste. You may not leave a tethered pet unattended. Learn more about visiting Denali with a pet

 

Questions About the Driving Permit Reservation System

The park’s tour and transit bus system capacity is greatly reduced due to COVID-19. As a result, the park will implement a timed entry road permit reservation system to allow some private vehicles to travel the restricted portion of the Denali Park Road. This 2020 offering will allow for additional access beyond the very limited transit and tour bus schedule and complies with CDC social distancing guidelines.

Visit recreation.gov to book your permit. Note, you must have an account to make a reservation and we recommend creating your account well in advance of applying for your permit.

Select the day of your visit and your preferred entry time, add it to your cart and make the payment. Visit the Recreation.gov Help Center article if you have trouble completing the transaction.

You will receive an email confirmation with an attached permit. Print out a copy of your permit. There is no cell service or wifi available at Savage River and beyond, so make sure to have your permit ready in advance.

Entering the Park
Check-in happens at Mile 15 of the Denali Park Road at Savage River Check Station, a 30 minute drive from the park entrance.

The permit you purchase will include a 45 minute window of time to check-in (e.g., "9 am to 9:45 am"). This window is when you may begin driving past Savage River (Mile 15). If you arrive at Savage River after your scheduled entry time, you will be asked to park and wait until the next window opens—e.g., if your 9 am timed entry permit allows you to check in and drive past Savage River any time between 9 am to 9:45 am, but if you arrive at Savage River at 9:50 am, you'll be asked to wait until 10 am.

In order to check-in, the permit holder must be present in the vehicle with a valid ID and a permit for that specific date and time. If you are using a park pass for the entrance fee, you will need to present that as well.

Road permits are valid for one entrance only. Once the vehicle travels past mile 15, it will not be permitted to use the same permit to access the restricted section of the road a second time. Please plan accordingly.

More details on early / late arrivals can be found below in this FAQ.

Leaving the Park
All Teklanika Road Permits expire at 10:00 pm. All Eielson Road Permits expire at 9:00 pm. Therefore, all permit holders must be back at Savage River (or further east, nearer to the park entrance) no later than their specific permit’s expiration time.

Visitors are welcome to explore the park between Savage River and the park entrance at any hour of the day or night—please note, however, that sleeping is only possible in a designated campground (with a valid reservation), or with a backcountry camping permit!

Unless you have one of the annual or lifetime park passes, each vehicle permit reservation is $55.00 total, which includes a vehicle park entrance fee ($30.00, valid for seven days) and a vehicle permit fee ($25.00, valid for one day). 

If you have an annual or lifetime pass, select the type of pass during the reservation process and it will be accepted as your entrance fee. Be prepared to show your identification, annual or lifetime pass and your vehicle permit reservation when you check-in.

Permits will be available to reserve at 10 a.m. AKDT 14 days prior to each permit date on a rolling daily window. An additional set of permits are also available two days in advance of each permit date at 10 a.m. AKDT on a rolling daily window.
It may vary over time. The number of reservation permits available will be based on several factors, including resource protection and crowding conditions as monitored by NPS staff and guided by the park’s Vehicle Management Plan.
No. If a date is completely booked, there will not be an option to join a wait list. However, if any reservations are cancelled, those permits will become available for others to reserve up to midnight the night before.
Cancellations must be made through recreation.gov. Cancellations must be made up to 72 hours in advance for a refund (minus the $2 booking fee). There will be no refunds for no-shows or cancellations made less than 72 hours in advance. Permits will not be rescheduled or refunded for inclement weather.
A permit will cover one vehicle and all its occupants. The person whose name is on the permit must be present in the vehicle for the permit to be valid. You may bring as many people as will (legally) fit in your non-commercial vehicle (please note vehicle size limits in above for the Eielson Road Permit).
The park road is open to Mile 15 to all visitors who have paid the park entrance fee. Traffic beyond Mile 15 is restricted to only vehicles with valid permits.
Visitors are allowed to have up to one private vehicle reservation per day for one time slot to travel past Mile 15 of the Denali Park Road. Additional days can be booked under the same stipulations.
No. Reservations may be cancelled, but they may not be transferred. The person whose name is on the permit must be present in the vehicle with appropriate ID for the permit to be valid.

Check-in happens at Mile 15 of the Denali Park Road at Savage River Check Station, a 30 minute drive from the park entrance.

Early Arrivals
Permit-holders who arrive at Savage River 30 minutes or less before their stated entry time may be allowed to wait in their car until it is their permitted time for them to enter the restricted section of the park road.

Permit-holders who arrive at Savage River more than 30 minutes before their stated entry time may be asked to turn around and come back closer to their stated entry time, because parking is limited at Savage River.

Late Arrivals
We understand that people run into traffic or get delayed. If you are late and miss your window, it may be possible for park staff to reschedule you for a later time, depending on availability. Please expect to wait while availability is assessed.

Visitors who are unable to use their reservation are asked to cancel as early as possible. This allows the park to make the reservation space available to other visitors.

No refunds are available for no shows or cancellations less than 72 hours in advance. Permits will not be rescheduled or refunded for inclement weather.
If you booked your permit and paid the standard park entry fee, but then later you purchased a Denali or annual park pass, act quickly to get a refund on the park entry fee.

You will be able to modify your reservation in Recreation.gov to add a
valid park pass and get refunded the entrance fee up to 72 hours prior to the entry date. No modifications can be made within the final 72 hours.
 

Conditions on the Denali Park Road

The map below illustrates which parts of the park road are open to private vehicles (thick green line) and, in summer, to bus traffic (thin black line). Red indicates sections of road closed. Icons also indicate which park campgrounds are open.

 
 

Last updated: June 4, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755

Phone:

(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am—4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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