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Alaska Beat

A very wet end to tourist season around Denali National Park

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 23, 2012

According to Robert J. Lype Jr., flooding on the Nenana River this weekend dovetailed with the end of the tourist season in and around Denali National Park. His account via email:

"Friday morning the Nenana river breeched its banks in the Denali Park area along the Parks Highway. Heavy rains earlier in the week south of Cantwell found their way down the river sending a deluge of water north.

"Areas along the river became victim of minor flooding. Employees of the McKinley Chalet Hotel worried as the employee-housing area came close to flooding. The area is located on the banks of the Nenana River, where the river enters the scenic canyon.

"Some of the hotel's support building suffered minor flooding, sending employees of the hotel scampering to salvage what they could. A few of the buildings used for rafting operations on the banks of the Nenana suffered water damage.

"Along the Parks Highway at Mile 240, the river undermined a section of the roadbed, threatening the Parks Highway, a vital transportation link in the state. State DOT employees acted swiftly to repair the damage. Closing the highway would have caused a ground transportation nightmare.

"Princess Tours is staying open until Sept. 25. With the Alaska Railroad suspending operations due to track damage, (tour companies are) relying on bus transportation to move guests. Healy and the Denali National Park area have limited resources and rely on the Parks Highway as a vital link to Fairbanks for supplies.

"State DOT employees Saturday quickly pulled together the resources to begin the repairs as the river slowly receded. As of Sunday morning, repairs on the road were well under way and expected to take a few more day of hauling fill to (complete)."

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