*UPDATED* Denali Park Road Lottery goes online-only

Update, June 8: In light of public complaints, the National Park Service has reversed its decision to accept entries for the road lottery by online submission only.

Complaints included not wanting submit credit card information online, lack of internet access, and confusion about the new system, according the Fairbanks Daily News-miner.

People can submit the entries by mail or online. Telephone submission will be available starting June 17. All submissions will be accepted until June 30.

To apply online, go to www.recreation.gov

To apply by phone, call (877) 444-6777 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Mail entries to:

Road Lottery
Denali National Park and Preserve
P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99775

Include first and last name, desired lottery dates on the back of the envelope and a check or money order $10 payable to the National Park Service.

Kelsey Gobroski / Sun Star Reporter
June 6, 2011

Denali National Park and Preserve, normally limited to tour buses, opens to a few personal vehicles after the flood of tourists recedes in mid-September. The Road Lottery provides 1,600 winners a chance at planning their own day trip in the park between September 16 and 19. The National Parks Service (NPS) accepts entries between June 1 and June 30. Starting this year, participants must enter online at Rec.gov.

“It provides opportunities for Alaskans to visit the park,” public affairs officer Kris Fister said. There are Alaskans who may want to enjoy the local resource, but without the confinement of tour busses.  “We value it as a tool to connect with folks who live here,” Fister said.

Normally, the Park Road is open only to tour buses after Savage River. Thirty years ago, buses would stop running between Savage River and Wonder Lake by Labor Day, and that portion of the park would open to the public. Eventually, more than 1,000 vehicles would travel the 85-mile road each day, Fister said. The park had to remain well staffed late into the season to keep up with everything. People aggregated in well-trodden spots, campfires were everywhere, and pets endangered the wildlife.

“We were tasked with protecting resources and ensuring safety, and that wasn’t happening,” Fister said.
In 1990, park officials decided to continue giving locals a chance at independently exploring the park, but made the option open to a scarce few by creating the lottery, according to Rec.gov. At first, participants mailed in their entries to the lottery, but forms sometimes got lost. The majority of entries are submitted online now, and participation has gone up since the option became available. In 2007, there were 8,000 entries, and after introducing online applications, participation hovers around 10,000 entries.

In addition to being online-only, the road lottery changed websites – from pay.gov to rec.gov .  At pay.gov, the park had to manage its own database – rec.gov covers that, as well as provides features such as automatic notification, Fister said.

Rec.gov will accept entries until June 30. Each entry costs $10, and winning participants must pay an additional $25, as well as an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle if they do not have annual passes.

To apply, sign up for an account with www.recreation.gov, search for Denali National Park, click on the “apply now” button, enter the date you’re available, and fill out the rest of the provided form. The winners will be announced on www.nps.gov/dena by July 15, according to the park website.

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