The Denali Park Road is the only road in Denali National Park and Preserve. This 92-mile (148 km) ribbon of road parallels the Alaska Range and travels through low valleys and high mountain passes. Weather permitting, many opportunities exist to view the park’s beautiful vistas, including North America’s highest peak, Denali. It is not uncommon for Denali’s wildlife to also take advantage of the convenience provided by the park road, which can make for spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities.
Only One Road, Only One Entrance
Designed to showcase the park’s stunning features and to access the historic Kantishna mining district, a trip on the Denali Park Road is both a journey full of natural beauty and one that offers a look back in time.
One-third of Denali’s vastness is designated Wilderness, which affords the park additional protections that help maintain the pristine feel of a land unchanged by humans. These protections limit the ability to explore Denali via mechanized transportation, making the park road one of the best ways to reach the heart of the park.
The wilderness character of the park is partly maintained by limiting vehicle use on the park road. Private vehicles are restricted beyond Savage River, mile 15 on the park road; a bus or other non-motorized form of transportation is needed to go past this point. Winners of the annual Denali Road Lottery have a unique chance to take the one and only Denali Park Road to explore the park at their own pace, with their own vehicle, and discover all the wonders of Denali for themselves.
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska (Emily Mesner, NPS Photo)
Each September the park hosts a four-day event called the Denali Road Lottery. During these four days, winners of the lottery are given a chance to purchase a single, day-long permit, allowing them to drive as much of the Denali Park Road as weather allows. In years with early snow, the Park Road might open no farther than Savage River (Mile 15); in milder years, lottery winners are able to enjoy a trip out to the end of the park road (Mile 92).
The dates offered in the Road Lottery vary each year. Generally, the event begins the second Friday after Labor Day. This year’s four-day event will be September 13-17, 2019.
Applicants must apply for the lottery, open May 1 – May 31 each year, to have a chance to drive the road in September.