There are lotteries for landing backcountry campsites in the national parks, lotteries for winning the privilege for floating down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park, and even lotteries for the chance to drive down the 92-mile-long Denali Park Road in Denali National Park & Preserve during the fall color season.
Those who win the coveted permits for the Denali Park Road Lottery -- yes, that's how it's referred to in Alaska, not a lottery for Denali Park Road permits -- take to it in mid-September (if weather allows) -- after the park's shuttle buses cease operations for the year. Now, how far they get on the road is impossible to predict.
"I seem to remember more white road lotteries than brown ones. If we're lucky the road will be open for its entire length, all the way to Kantishna," says park spokeswoman Kris Fister. "But sometimes snow on the highest parts of the road prevents us from opening it beyond Toklat (Mile 53), and some days because of snow at Sable Pass it will only be open to the Teklanika River Rest Area (mile 30). We advise folks to check ahead for weather conditions - they don't pay for their actual road permit and entrance fee until they come to the park."
Now, despite Denali's far-off location (for Lower 48ers), quite a few folks take a shot at winning the lottery. This year's window for driving down the highway is September 17, 18, 19, and 20th. Through the lottery the park plans to issue 400 permits for each of the days, a total of 1,600 for the weekend. "Last year, the first year we had an on-line entry system, we received 10,061 entries (7,536 on pay.gov, 2,525 by mail)," recalls Ms. Fister. "In previous years, when we only accepted entries via mail, we received 8,000 entries."
So, what do you have to do to get a piece of this action? Read on.
Lottery entries must be postmarked or submitted electronically between June 1 - 30, 2010. Entries postmarked before June 1 or after June 30 will be returned.
* Entries can be made online at: http://www.pay.gov/forms/formInstance.html?agencyFormID=20930258. (note - this web page will not be accessible to the public until June 1, 2010)
* A $10, non-refundable fee is required for each entry. This fee can be paid by credit card or debit card if entering online, or by check or money order if mailing an entry. Please do not send cash.
* A $25, non-refundable permit fee is required on the day the road permit is picked up at the park. In addition, permit holders must pay the park entrance fee of $20 per vehicle unless they have an America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (Annual, Senior, Access or Volunteer), or a Denali Park specific pass.
* Only one entry per person will be accepted. Duplicate entries will be disqualified.
* Entries will also be accepted by mail. Please be certain that:
1. A legible return address, including first and last name (this is needed for selection notification) is on the envelope.
2. Your desired dates, in order of preference, are printed on the back of the envelope. If no dates are provided, dates of September 17, 18, 19 and 20 will be assigned in that order.
3. A check or money order for $10, made payable to the "National Park Service," is included.
4. No additional paperwork is necessary with the envelope. The required information should be on the outside of the envelope.
* Mail entries to:
Denali National Park and Preserve
P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755
* Entries must be postmarked no later than June 30, and must arrive by July 7 to be included in the drawing. If using the mail, submit entries early to make certain they arrive in time! All entries that arrive after July 7 will be returned, even if they were postmarked in June.
* The names of the individuals who are selected for permits will be posted on the park website, at www.nps.gov/dena/whatsnew.htm by July 15. Everyone who submitted an entry will be notified about the entry status via the U.S. mail. The information sent to those selected for road permits will include details on visiting the park during the road lottery. Permits are transferable.
* Please contact park headquarters at (907) 683-2294 or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/road-lottery.htm for additional information.