How To Get A Denali Road Lottery Permit
Updated January 2024, How To Get A Denali Road Lottery Permit was originally written in 2015
The 2023 Denali Road Lottery is cancelled due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide
(announcements for 2024 have not been made yet)
In September every year Denali National Park, one of Alaska’s best-known landmarks, allows visitors to drive in their own vehicles to the end of the park road to Kantishna (weather and road conditions permitting). If you would like to drive your own vehicle past Savage River in Denali National Park you will need to get your hands on a Denali Road Lottery Permit.
Road Lottery permit winners are allowed to fit as many people can legally fit in their car, truck, or van and drive in on their specified date. The dates for 2022 are still to be announced but are usually fall on four days in the third week of the month with 400 cars per day allowed in.
The campgrounds at Riley Creek, Savage River, and Teklanika River are all open as well during the road lottery, they do have to be reserved in advance, which you can do at www.reservedenali.com or by calling 800-622-7275 or 907-272-7275. Some hotels in Healy and Cantwell will still be open this weekend for those not looking to camp.
August 24, 2021 update: The Denali National Park Road is now closed at mile 42 by Polychrome Pass due to the Pretty Rocks landslide. Read more about it in this article on Anchorage Daily News or on the National Park Service website.
Need Travel Insurance and Evacuation Services for Alaska?
Start shopping for travel insurance plans over at IATI Insurance. Readers of the Adventures of Nicole get a 5% discount off your plan.
The Adventures of Nicole partners with Global Rescue to offer the world’s leading medical evacuation and security advisory services. To travel with peace of mind, shop evacuation coverage at Global Rescue.
Learning everything you need to know to plan a perfect visit: The Denali Travel Guide
Step 1: Apply For The Denali Road Lottery
You must apply between May 1 and May 30 prior to the lottery. You can apply over at www.recreation.gov or over the phone.
There is a $15 fee per entrance that is non-refundable. The lottery winners will be announced in June.
If your name is selected you will be notified by e-mail. You will be charged an additional $25 if your name is drawn for the lottery. The permits are transferable, so you could have someone else apply for you and transfer the permit to you.
Step 2: Pick Up Your Permit For Your Day At The Park Headquarters
This is assuming that you were selected or that you had a permit transferred to you.
You can begin driving into the park at 6 am on your designated date. I’d advise you to arrive the day before and pick up your permit so that you do not have to do it early in the morning on your drive.
When you pick up your permit you also will need to pay the $10 fee per person for entry into Denali National Park. The $10 fee gives you entrance to the park for a 7 consecutive day period.
Step 3: Drive Into The Park
At 6 am the date of your permit you can drive into the park. You have until midnight that night to be back past the Savage River bridge on your way out of the park. Weather permitting, you have the opportunity to drive the entire length of the road to Kantishna.
There are years that the road is closed as soon as Savage River at mile 12. It is not uncommon for some or all of the road to be closed several hours due to snow. Just remember that all fees are not refundable in the event that the road is closed due to weather or conditions of the road.
- Follow the rules and regulations for the road lottery, listed here.
- Watch this video on the rules of driving the Denali Park road before you go.
- Each person may only submit one application.
- There is a $15 non-refundable application fee.
- If your name is drawn you will be charged another $25 for the Denali Road Lottery Permit.
- You will need to pay $10 per person for the park entrance fee on arrival in Denali.
- Permits cannot be resold.
- Permits can be transferred. In order to transfer a permit the selected lottery winner must print the email they receive from Recreation.gov, write in the transferee’s name and then sign it.
- The person picking up the road lottery permit at the Denali Visitor Center must be the person who was selected in the lottery, or in the case the permit was transferred, bring the written and signed approval email printout.
- If you do not have a road lottery permit, you cannot drive in beyond Savage River.
- For those with a Denali Road Lottery Permit, you may drive beyond Savage River between 6 am and midnight of your assigned date.
- Riley Creek, Savage River, and Teklanika River Campgrounds are open during Road Lottery. Reservations are available at www.reservedenali.com or by calling 800-622-7275 or 907-272-7275.
Where To Stay During The Denali Road Lottery
Many of the area’s hotels shut down the weekend before the road lottery for the season, but a few do stay open. Check out my guide to Denali National Park for recommendations.
Some accommodations in Healy, and Cantwell will be open. And don’t forget you can camp in the park as well, but you’ll need to reserve in advance.
Have Any Questions About The Denali Road Lottery?
Ask in the comments section below.