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That’s why, when we found out we were selected in the Denali Road Lottery to drive our personal vehicle all the way to the end of the park road in Kantishna, we didn’t hesitate! Read on to learn more about our road trip!
What is Denali, and Where Is It?
It’s located inside Denali National Park and Preserve, which encompasses over 6 MILLION acres. Told ya everything is big in Alaska! There’s tons of wildlife in the park, including bears, wolves, and moose.
What is the Denali Road Lottery?
Typically, the main way visitors get to see Denali is from tour buses. Personal vehicles were allowed in the mid-1980s, but the park was receiving up to 2,000 vehicles a day. It wasn’t sustainable to handle that many visitors, and was a danger to wildlife, so the Denali Road Lottery Permit system was implemented.
Every September, the National Park Service holds a 5-day event, the Denali Road Lottery, to allow permit holders access to the end of the road, 92.5 miles down, all the way in Kantishna, Alaska.
Only 400 vehicles a day are selected, so we felt pretty lucky to have been chosen! In fact, we were vacationing with my parents and even convinced them to change the date on their return trip home so they could see it too. Plus, access is completely dependent on the weather and has been known to close due to snow. We were lucky and had warm, sunny temperatures.
How Do I Enter the Denali Road Lottery?
They also offer 400 passes to the local military bases, which is how we received ours. All entrants are notified via email if they won or not, so keep an eye on your spam email just in case!
What Should I Do To Prepare for Denali?
In addition to food and drinks, we made sure our emergency kit was fully stocked. The spare tire was checked over, a portable air compressor was tucked away, and our toolkit and emergency flares were loaded up.
If you have a large truck or other vehicle that’s not quite fuel-efficient, you’ll want to bring some extra gas. I also packed some towels, window wipes, and Windex. It may sound a little extra, but since Denali is so very remote, it’s better to be safe!
Luckily we didn’t need much besides the Windex and wipes as the roads were extremely dusty. We lost track of how many vehicles with flat tires we saw, and I was grateful to have taken some precautions just in case.
The Day Of Our Denali Trip
Only around 30% of visitors actually get to SEE Denali due to weather, so we were especially thankful! We stopped for gas in Cantwell, the last town with a gas station, before turning on Park Road. After a quick photo op at the sign, we stopped at the Visitor Center to grab our pass and head down the road!
Along the way, we saw a few bears, birds, marmot (ground squirrels) and magpies. We didn’t get lucky with moose this time, but my parents will be back next winter so hopefully they get to see a moose for the first time then! Along the way, we stopped for tons of photos, as Denali in the fall is especially breathtaking!
Polychrome Pass, a winding, narrow cliff-side road, was a bit intimidating, but we handled it well. Around 5 hours after entering the park, we finally made it to the end of the road! We then started the trip back home. It was a long, long day, but it was completely incredible and absolutely worth it!
A Few Tips On Visiting Denali With Dogs
We add a comfy bed to the back for Roxy & Rico to get cozy on. If your dog is anxious during car rides, CBD oil can help ease their stress a bit. We’re fans of King Kanine CBD oil with lavender. Learn more about the benefits of CBD oil here!
Stopping frequently helps ward off cabin fever, and allows everyone stretch their legs and enjoy the sights and smells. That will help keep everyone happy!