September visits to Denali National Park and Preserve offer their own rewards, but it's important to check ahead about road and weather conditions. The park has reported the first significant snowfall of the season, and that has resulted in a few changes for travel in the park.
Recent snow accumulations ranged from two inches at Park Headquarters to almost two feet at the Eielson Visitor Center. Here's an update from the park on facilities and road conditions:
In spite of this first taste of winter, the Denali Park Road is open for travel by private vehicles to the Teklanika River Rest Area at Mile 30, weather permitting. The road will remain open to the rest area until snow closes it for the season at park headquarters (Mile 3). Visitors are advised to call ahead for weather and road information, as conditions can change rapidly at this time of the year.
Vault toilets at the East Savage River parking area (Mile 15) and some of the chemical toilets at the Teklanika River Rest Area are open and available for visitors. Other park facilities west of headquarters, such as campgrounds and restrooms, are closed for the season.
Beginning Wednesday, September 23 the Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) begins functioning as the winter visitor center. The MSLC is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to provide park information and backcountry permits.
The Bear Loop of the Riley Creek Campground at Mile 0.2 will remain open for camping, but the water has been turned off for the season. A vault toilet is provided for campers and water can be obtained at the Murie Science and Learning Center. Gas, food service and lodging are available year-round in the communities of Healy and Cantwell.
For current information about the park, you can check the park website at www.nps.gov/dena or call (907) 683-2294 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily. Don't forget about the time difference (Alaska is four hours earlier than Eastern time!)