A handful of traffic lights scattered along the Parks Highway near the Denali National Park entrance help guide thousands of tourists to lodges, restaurants and gift shops. But this summer, the traffic light coverings from winter remained on, lights were turned off and visitors are scarce.
The weather was dreary on a recent weekend day, reflecting the mood in the tourist strip known as Glitter Gulch, made up of shops and lodges that bring in hundreds of seasonal employees from May through September. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Gulch is desolate in comparison to previous summers, when cars and RVs filled makeshift parking spots.
Many businesses have remained closed this season, while some that are open have large signs and window paintings pointing tourists their way.
At Prospectors Pizzeria and Alehouse, many guests opted to dine outside, including a couple from California who marveled at the midnight sun.
Although business closures were prevalent, there was hope for a return to normal next year. Signs outside Denali Park Salmon Bake and Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge read, “Hibernating for the season - see you May 2021” and “We will be back.”
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