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Rains play havoc with Denali road

buses on Pretty Rocks road
A close pass by two buses just past the Pretty Rocks landslide area.

Driving the Denali Park Road has been a challenge this season.

For weeks now, rockfalls and debris slides have disrupted vehicle traffic and on August 16 300 tourists were stranded for hours after heavy rains triggered mudslides and caused excess water from a culvert to damage the only road inside the vast park.

The Alaska Railroad has seen its service north interrupted several times, first by heavy rains and more recently by wildfires.

On August 2, park staff were forced to close the road west of Polychrome Pass due to a debris slide. On the same day, several small rock slides between Healy and the park entrance delayed trains on the Alaska Railroad, with passengers being bused to either Fairbanks or Anchorage.

Park officials said campgrounds and trails are open, although some have suffered water and debris damage. They warned that river crossings may be potentially dangerous due to “exceptionally high” flows.

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