A mild winter and spring are helping crews at Denali National Park in Alaska clear snow and ice off the Denali Park Road, which was scheduled to open to Mile 30 today.
Snow conditions are variable for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other winter recreational activities, and will change rapidly with increasing temperatures, park officials say. The spring road opening crew has reported sightings of moose, caribou, Dall sheep, ravens, ptarmigans, fox, golden eagles and a wolverine. There have been no bear sightings reported.
Vault toilets are available for visitor use at the Teklanika Rest Area, the parking areas on both sides of the Savage River and the Mountain Vista Trailhead (rest area) east of the Savage River Campground. Other park facilities west of headquarters, including the campgrounds, remain closed until later in May.
Visitors should expect to encounter snow, ice, and mud on some portions of the road, particularly in shaded sections. Motorists are also advised to be alert for National Park Service personnel steaming culverts along the side of the road, and for heavy equipment being used in the road opening operations.
Weather conditions can change rapidly at this time of the year, and the road may open and close several times. Visitors are encouraged to contact the park for updated road and weather information. For those interested in following the progress of the Denali road crew as they plow westward along the 92 mile park road to Kantishna, timely updates are posted on the park website at http://www.nps.gov/dena/spring-road-opening.htm.
Photos are posted on the park's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DenaliNPS.
The Bear Loop in the Riley Creek Campground at Mile 0.2 is open, and camping is free until May 15th. A vault toilet is provided in the loop that remains open year-round, and campers can obtain water at the Murie Science and Learning Center. Water and sewer services will not be available until mid to late May.
The Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) at Mile 1.3 is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for visitor information and backcountry permits through May 14th.
Additional park information is available on the web at www.nps.gov/dena or by calling (907) 683-9532 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. Stay connected with "DenaliNPS" on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes ' links to these social media sites are available at www.nps.gov/dena.