The road into Denali National Park and Preserve will be opened to private vehicles Friday afternoon, park officials say.
The road will be open to Mile 30, the Teklanika Rest Area, unless weather prompts a closure, according to a news release. It’s possible the road could be opened and closed several times, given the rapidly changing conditions in the park this time of year, so visitors are encouraged to contact the park for road updates.
The opening gives private drivers the chance to drive the road without the bus traffic most visitors are accustomed to during the summer season. Until May 20, when the Teklanika road permits go into effect and bus service begins, visitors do not need a permit to drive to Mile 30, according to park spokesman Paul Ollig.
Visitors should expect to encounter snow, ice and mud on some sections and carry bear spray, park officials say: grizzly bears have been sighted this spring. The road opening crew has also spotted moose, ptarmigan, hawks and golden eagles.
Limited restroom facilities are available for visitor use at the Teklanika Rest Area, the parking area on the east side of the Savage River at Mile 15, and at the Mountain Vista Trailhead rest area east of the Savage River Campground at Mile 11. Other park facilities west of headquarters, including campgrounds, remain closed until later in May.
The Indoor Picnic Area, near the Murie Science and Learning Center at Mile 1.5, is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. until May 15, when the Denali Visitor Center will be opening.
Park information is available on the web at nps.gov/dena or by calling 907-683-9532.