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Denali Park Road reopened after mudslide debris cleared

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: August 9, 2016
  • Published August 9, 2016

Park staff closed the Denali Park Road at mile 67 after a large mudslide on July 30, 2016. The road reopened on Aug. 9. (Photo by James Long)

The Denali Park Road was reopened at midnight Monday, but certain vehicles can't drive on the narrow route because it still needs repairs, a park official said.

A 100-foot-wide, 10-foot-deep mudslide cut off access to the road at Mile 67 Saturday, temporarily stranding guests and employees at the Wonder Lake Campground and private lodges in Kantishna, the terminus of the road.

Removal of the debris continued through the weekend, and the road was cleared on Monday, said National Park Service public information officer Lynn McAloon.

"There are still folks out there assessing the area" for another potential mudslide, McAloon said.

Overflights in the area of the slide found loose material further up the slope that the road cuts through.

A crew used large front-end loaders to clear the materials from the road and also scraped out a 200-foot buffer. If another debris flow were to happen, it would fill that gap, McAloon said.

Park officials do not expect another slide for the time being. On Tuesday evening, weather at the park was "beautifully sunny," McAloon said.

"But the situation depends on precipitation," she said, adding the park was prepared to close the road again if needed.

Vehicles hauling large tandem trailers are restricted from driving over the affected area of road. The damage has made it difficult to manage the curves of the road, but the park will continue to operate tour buses beyond Mile 67, and visitors traveling in smaller vehicles to cabins further up are still allowed to do so, McAloon said.

Repairs to the road are likely to happen next summer, she said.