Denali National Park Road Lottery: We’re last-minute winners (sort of)

We're going WHERE? WHEN?

I receive a lot of fabulous messages from AKontheGO readers, but the one that cycled through the Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon had AK Fam hollering with excitement.

The Denali National Park Road, as provided by my pals at

“We won the Denali National Park Road Lottery, but have to make an unexpected trip abroad, unfortunately. Do you know anyone who might want it? Do YOU want it?”

Do I want it?!———->>> 

Year after year, AK Dad and I dutifully fill out the form, pay the fee, and cross our fingers, toes, and those of AK Kid and the dog, as well. But year after year, we are disappointed. I’ve been to Denali National Park in the summer, I’ve parked my behind on the seat of a bus to travel the 85 miles to Wonder Lake, I’ve hiked the trails and seen the mountain and witnessed amazing wildlife and visited with people from around the world. But only during the summer months.

Now, we will go in the fall. Double-darn-awesome, this.

How did we manage such a feat? Can one person transfer their lottery permit to another? Read on, friends, because here’s what you need to know:

Lottery winners check in with NPS prior to the beginning of their drive.

AKontheGO'er Lia captured this nice shot of a bear from near the Park Road.

1. Yes, you can transfer lottery permits. Visit the Denali National Park website for specific Road Lottery details, but the paraphrased version is thus: “The person who won needs to print out the permit, then write a short note saying why he or she is not able to use the permit on the date awarded, and give all this to your friend, family member, co-worker, or the stranger in line in front of you at Kaladi Brothers Coffee.”  Pretty simple, but don’t forget to do this, otherwise everyone will come out disappointed.

2. Is it too late to make camping or hotel reservations? Probably not. Read a great post by AKontheGO’er Lia Keller, founder of Skedaddle Outdoor Play Group. She took her two young boys on a weekend Road Lottery trip last year and had some great advice. Many Nenana Canyon (Glitter Gulch) hotels stay open, and the park campgrounds are open, too. Just plan for chilly temps.

3. What if the weather turns sour? That’s a risk, all right. But be a proper Alaskan and pack all the stuff you’d want for a road trip, anyway; gloves, hats, sleeping bags, food, water, and a shovel. You never know. Some years the Park Road is open the entire 85 miles, some years, only those first 15 to Savage River. But we’ll take it, because it’s Denali National Park, for gosh sakes!

4. When are we going, and how can you follow along? Our lottery day is scheduled for Sunday, September 14, and AKontheGO’ers can track our journey through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and possibly the blog, depending upon the fritzy internet service in the entrance area/Nenana Canyon. Bears, moose, colorful vegetation, and the Denali National Park magic mojo – it’s on the way!

Wildlife-watching along the road during the Lottery weekend.


Posted in Alaska Wildlife Experiences, Denali National Park and tagged , , , , , , .