Denali National Park mudslide cleanup

Cleanup of the Denali National Park mudslide continued Sunday, July 31, 2016. The slide was discovered Saturday at milepost 67 of the 92-mile park road.

FAIRBANKS—Workers are still clearing out the muck that, propelled by heavy rain, oozed down a hill at Denali National Park and Preserve and covered a portion of the only road that runs through the popular tourist destination.

Traffic will be disrupted again today, though a spokeswoman for the National Park Service said few visitors are impacted because the portion of road that is closed is far into the park where personal vehicles are not allowed.

"The vast majority of visitors won't be affected by this," Park Service spokesman Lynn McAloon said.

The mudslide is at milepost 67, about a mile beyond the Eielson Visitor Center. The Park Service prohibits most personal vehicles beyond milepost 15 to reduce traffic congestion and protect natural resources.

The 92-mile park road ends at Kantishna.

The mudslide was estimated to be about 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

Shuttle bus and tour bus traffic is continuing, with the road temporarily opening twice today at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., but delays are possible, according to a Park Service employee reached at the park entrance visitor center.

The slide, discovered Saturday morning, temporarily stranded an unknown number of park workers and visitors overnight Saturday and caused the Park Service to have heavy equipment brought up from Anchorage to help clear the road.

The mix of mud, rock and ancient volcanic ash continued to flow onto the road into Sunday. No one was hurt in the slide, according to the Park Service.

The Park Service spokeswoman said park officials are hoping to have the road back to normal by the end of the week.

July was characterized by heavy rains at Denali Park, according to Dan Hancock of the National Weather Service.

A whopping 16.5 inches of rain was recorded for the month of July at the Eielson Visitor Center about a mile from the mudslide. It's the highest elevation where rain is monitored at the park and the most rain of any monitor in the park, Hancock said.

The weather service does not keep historical rain data for the park, he said.

"We don't have statistics, but that's a lot," the forecaster said.

By comparison, the rainiest July on record in Fairbanks was in 2003 with 5.96 inches of rain. 2016 saw the fourth rainiest July in Fairbanks with nearly 5 inches of rain.

This is the third mudslide to hit the Denali Park Road this summer.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

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