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Denali Park Looks to Hire Locals for Drastically Different Summer

Dan Bross

The National Park Service has re-opened Denali National Park to visitors. The agency closed the park earlier in April when Alaska’s daily COVID-19 case counts were increasing, and state health mandates limited many activities, including in state travel. 

With case counts now down, travel and other restrictions being relaxed, and snow cover receding, the Park Service has opened the road into Denali to Mile 12. That’s where summer season public vehicle access normally ends, beyond which visitors can hike, bike or take buses farther into the park.  NPS Alaska spokesperson Pete Christian says only limited bus service is anticipated this summer, and the agency is looking at expanding private vehicle access.

Denali Opens Lottery: Q:”…go further west.” :15

Christian cautions that expanded vehicle access, as well as opening facilities like visitor centers and campgrounds, hinge on staffing.

Denali Open Staff: Q:”…do that now.” :29

Christian says the Park Service may be looking to hire local area residents, displaced from their jobs or businesses by pandemic restrictions.

Denali Open Local: Q:”…to get to.” :19

Christian says the traditional seasonal hiring window has closed, but locals interested in working at Denali this summer can contact the park. Meanwhile, with staffing and operational protocols in question, Christian says bus and campground reservations are suspended.

Denali Open Reserve: Q:”…let the public know.” :24

Christian notes that there’s been good progress repairing a landslide damaged section of the Park Road in the Polychrome Pass area, and that the agency is also working with Kantishna area residents to ensure access to their private properties, including lodges, at the far end of the 90 mile park road.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.