Alaska’s Denali National Park plans to expand winter access, including more skiing, dog mushing

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Denali National Park and Preserve plans to expand winter and off-season access to accommodate what officials said are rising numbers of people seeking more wintry conditions.

The changes over time may include additional skiing, dog mushing and guiding opportunities from September to May, The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

Officials also plan to provide more roadside parking and vehicle access deeper inside the park in south-central Alaska, which was visited by nearly 595,000 people in 2018.

There is no clear timeline yet for the changes. The park this summer has temporarily allowed visitors to drive normally restricted areas of the road.

The number of winter visitors increased by 400% in recent years, although they still only make up 2% of the park’s total visitation.

Park traffic has also diversified with an increase in tour groups, international visitors and college students opting for a colder spring break.

The increase in off-season visitors in the past few years has occurred statewide, said Jennifer Johnston, a Denali outdoor recreation planner.

“Fairbanks is a real hotspot for that, and we get a lot of spillover,” Johnston said.

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