Those at the Denali Backcountry Lodge at Kantishna had been stranded all day Thursday by high water and washed out sections of the Denali Park Road. "They were ferried by the park’s two contract helicopters to buses staged at the Wonder Lake Ranger Station, or by fixed-wing aircraft to airstrips near or at the east end of the park," Denali spokeswoman Kris Fister reported late Thursday night. "National Park Service employees in that area were also evacuated."
The torrential rains that spawned the flooding also precipitated a rockfall at Eielson Bluffs, approximately 1-2 miles west of the park visitor center
Guests staying at other lodges where expected to be able to leave on Friday via the Denali Park Road, which crews managed to reopen after making temporary repairs to the causeway section of road at the north end of Wonder Lake, she added.
"Additionally, four mountaineers who had traversed Mt. McKinley were airlifted from the south side of the McKinley River to the Eielson Visitor Center," said Ms. Fister. "They had been trying for days to cross the river, but had been unsuccessful due to the high water, and were out of food. The river is notoriously difficult to cross, especially after heavy rain."
One Denali Backcountry Lodge employee who "had been stranded on what became an island in the housing area was able to get across the swollen Moose Creek with assistance from other employees and a rope."
Road crews were to coordinate plans Friday for repairing the damaged sections of the park road at Eureka and Friday Creeks with the Alaska Department of Transportation, who have the jurisdictional responsibility for that portion of the road. Road repairs may take several days, the park reported.