Denali National Park seeks travelers in slide area

AP News
Posted: Nov 08, 2013 7:58 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Denali National Park officials in Alaska want to hear from people who may have traveled in the area of a huge landslide that fell on a section of a road frequented by summer tourists.

The slide was discovered Oct. 23. Park spokeswoman Kris Fister said Friday the last known day anyone was in that area was Oct. 12. Hearing from people who were in the area during that gap could help better pinpoint when the landslide occurred.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center tried to determine the timing, park geologist Denny Capps said in an update posted online Thursday. But it's possible the slide could not create a distinctive seismic signal because of its apparent slow motion and relatively small size, wrote Capps, who could not be reached for details Friday.

The landslide covered a 110-foot stretch of the popular Denali Park Road at the 38-mile point, which was closed at the time of the discovery, although it could still be reached on foot or bicycle. An estimated 30,000 yards of debris fell from 600 feet above the road.

Some debris was as thick as 15 feet and the size of a small cabin, according to Capps.

There were no reported casualties.

The road was cleared as crews took advantage of unseasonably mild weather, but snow has since fallen in the area.

It remains unclear, however, if instability of the terrain will affect visitors next summer. But to say there will be a problem would be speculation, Fister said.

"We'll know more in the spring," she said.

Park officials have said the affected section of road appears intact. The area will be assessed next spring before the road opens to traffic.

Denali, 180 miles north of Anchorage, is home to numerous wild animals, including wolves, moose, bears, and caribou. Many visitors take buses along the road to view the wildlife and scenery.

The park attracts just over 400,000 tourists a year, with most visiting in the warmer months.

The 92-mile road is dormant and unmaintained in the winter, with crews beginning to clear it long before bus drivers start training in early May. Only 3 miles of the road are currently open.

The road opens gradually, with buses running the full length of the road on June 8.


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