The National Park Service will limit the number of vehicles allowed on the wilderness portion of Denali Park Road at 160 per day starting in 2015, but that still represents a potential sizable increase in traffic on the only road leading into Alaska’s premier national park.
The 160-vehicle-per-day cap will replace the current seasonal limit of 10,512 vehicles allowed on the road beyond Mile 15 during the 110-day tourist season from Memorial Day to a week after Labor Day. Private traffic on the park road is restricted beyond Mile 15, and buses are used to shuttle the roughly 400,000 tourists that visit Denali into and out of the park.
The decision to cap the daily number of vehicles allowed on the gravel section of the 92-mile Denali Park Road follows a four-year planning effort that included a $2 million study to evaluate how increasing traffic on the park road impacts everything from wildlife to tourists to the environment.
While the new cap has not been formally adopted, it is the final recommendation made by the Park Service in an Environmental Impact Statement on the park’s vehicle management plan.
The plan dictates that tour buses will be spaced out according to prevent traffic jams at wildlife and rest stops, one of the main concerns voiced by visitors in a survey the Park Service conducted.
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