Officials Are Finally Fixing a Major Issue at Denali National Park — Heres How It Will Affect Your Trip

You might have to wait, but don't worry, it's worth it.

Photo: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you're hoping to plan an epic trip to see the whole of Denali National Park this summer you might want to wait.

In October, the National Park Service announced, half of the 92-mile road that cuts through this massive national park in Alaska will remain closed through 2022 as the service works to complete a bridge over what has become an increasingly dangerous landslide.

The Pretty Rocks landslide has plagued the park since at least the 1960s. Until 2014, the landslide caused just minor maintenance issues. However, rising temperatures and increased precipitation hastened the problem, pushing the National Parks Service to close more than half the road in late August while they came up with a permanent solution.

"Climate change, with its associated warmer winter temperatures and increased precipitation, has taken what was previously a problem solved by maintenance staff performing road repairs and made a challenge too difficult to overcome with short-term solutions," the parks service shared in a statement.

And, the problem has only been getting worse since the closure. Since early September, this stretch of Denali Park Road has slumped about 30 feet, reflecting a sharp acceleration in erosion. "Landslide movement over this winter will exceed the park's ability to restore or maintain the road surface to safely allow for bus traffic," the National Parks Service added.

But don't worry, as there is indeed a plan.

Officials has long plotted to build a bridge over the area and is working to accelerate construction in light of the deterioration. The construction was initially slated to start in 2023, but it appears it may now begin in 2022, a full year early.

In the meantime, summer travelers will be offered bus service to mile 43 of Denali Park Road. From there, they'll have access "to great wildlife viewing, views of Denali, front-country trails, and backcountry hiking and camping," park deputy superintendent Brooke Merrell said.

Private cars are only permitted to drive the first 15 miles of Denali Park Road. Busses provide service beyond that point during the summer.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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