In 2014, after completing an Environmental Assessment in 2013, Denali National Park began plowing the road earlier, starting February 1st and continuing on into the spring season when the road is normally cleared. The early plowing began at park headquarters and ended at the Mt. Vista Rest Stop, where there is a parking lot.
This activity was considered to be a “trial” for 3 – 5 years, while staff would monitor impact on financial and natural resources and visitor experience. The report attached to this post describes monitoring done by NPS during the 2014 and 2015 seasons of early opening.
Originally, it appeared that early opening of the park road was done to accommodate commercial tourism, including winter visitors brought on tour buses from Fairbanks. So far, most of the use appears to have been by private vehicles and vans, and commercial use, for whatever reason, has not been dominant.
DCC’s concerns have included impacts on wildlife who inhabit this area of the park (including two known wolf dens), impacts on access by local mushers and skiers, and incremental advance of sophisticated infrastructure into the designated Wilderness core park. In particular, we opposed any noise-making infrastructure, such as generators to support plug-ins, for example, at the Mt. Vista rest stop.
This report is illuminating and we recommend clicking on the link below to read it. The report is large and will take a little time to download.