FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The COVID-19 pandemic has seen travel around the world grind to a near halt. With many of the major cruise ship companies canceling their sailings to Alaska this summer, the state will be a lot more empty than usual. While Denali National Park and Preserve will still be running their usual bus service, they are expecting much less demand. The decreased bus traffic will make room for more people to visit the park in their personal vehicles.
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“There would be some unused access along the park road during the summer and we felt that we could work with the public to give them some of that access during this summer when there will be reduced bus service,” said Denali National Park Public Affairs Officer G. W. Hitchcock.
Their solution was to make a new reservation system that gives people access to the park road. During June, reservations to drive to the Teklanika Rest Stop will be available each day. The first permits are available 14 days before the day they are to be used. The remaining permits will be available 48-hours prior to the date.
Starting in July and continuing into September, there will be five weekends that allow private vehicles to travel to the Eielson Visitor Center. These permits will operate in the same way as the Teklanika permits.
During June, visitors with a permit are required to leave the park at the end of the day unless they have a backcountry permit as well as the Teklanika permit. Starting in July, people with a backcountry permit will be required to use the camper busses. Visitors with a Teklanika River Campground reservation will be allowed to drive their private vehicle if they have a minimum of three-night reservation.
Busses will still run starting on July 1 when they will begin traveling to the Eielson Visitor Center.
The reservation system is different than the annual road lottery. The park is still holding the lottery and will be accepting entries until the end of June. The lottery allows visitors to drive their vehicle into the park at the end of the season.
Hitchcock said this is a unique summer that will allow residents to have much more access to the park than usual. More information about the increased access can be found on the parks website. To apply for the permits visit recreation.gov
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