Denali Road Lottery

A grizzly bear is spotted foraging along a hillside near PolyChrome Pass while driving the Denali National Park Road during the Road Lottery Sunday, September 16, 2018. Each September the park hosts a four-day event called the "Road Lottery." During these four days, winners of a lottery drawing 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). Each year about 11,000 applicants are received, with 1,600 permits are awarded.

A mudslide caused a brief road closure in Denali National Park and Preserve over the weekend.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday, a road crew from Toklat was sent to mile 48 of the park road, where the mudslide had made the road impassable just west of Polychrome Pass. The crew cleared the road, which opened for traffic again at 2:40 p.m., according to a news release from Denali National Park and Preserve.

This is the first time this summer a road has been closed in the park due to a landslide. This slide is about 2.5 miles west of the Pretty Rocks area that is undergoing a slow-moving slide that was reported on earlier this summer. Two other landslides were reported Aug. 3 but had no impact on traffic, the release states.

Road crews expect events like this when it's been raining, according to G.W. Hitchcock, a public information officer for the park.

“I’d say there are probably a good eight spots that we monitor several times throughout the day to see how drainage is going on them, to see if there is any chance for slumping along the road," Hitchcock said.

Slumping occurs when the ground is wet, causing loose pieces of land or debris to travel downhill.

When landslides occur during the day, Hitchcock said, there's normally a lot of resources to allocate toward a fast response, keeping traffic from being delayed too long. However, if one occurs at night when response times can take longer, there can be some issues for vendors out at Kantishna, who only use the road during select time periods.

“So it can sometimes impact them a bit because they have very tight schedules," he said.

Park employees are on alert because the chances for landslides increase under rainy weather conditions, which are anticipated in coming days.

“We’re not expecting another one to happen, but we are prepared to respond if it does," Hitchcock said.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter at: twitter.com/FDNMlocal

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