Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Assessing geohazards to the Denali National Park road with geologic mapping

April 7, 2020

Denali National Park (DENA) is home to iconic and breathtaking landscapes surrounding the tallest mountain range in North America, the Alaska Range. The park, which covers 6 million acres, is a major draw for tourism and recreation, making it an important economic engine for central Alaska. However, the geologic forces that created the beautiful, steep landscape of DENA also make it prone to geologic hazards (geohazards) like landslides, debris flows, and earthquakes. DENA has only one major road, called the Park Road, that serves nearly all of its infrastructure. The success of DENA as a visitor destination, an economic engine, and a safe environment for visitors, residents, and staff relies on the resilience of this road, making it a major transportation lifeline for the region.

Since 2017, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program have partnered to produce a new high-resolution geologic map of the Park Road corridor to identify and address ongoing geohazards affecting DENA infrastructure. In the area of Polychrome Overlook, this map is being used to guide a new route for the Park Road around an area of landslide-prone slopes, where ongoing slumping is costing National Park Service millions of dollars in annual road maintenance costs. Beyond this area, the map serves as a park resource to assess geohazard risk in future infrastructure and management decisions. Geologic mapping is also fueling new research in understanding the geologic and tectonic history of DENA, while training a new generation of geologic mappers through the USGS EDMAP program.

Publication Year 2020
Title Assessing geohazards to the Denali National Park road with geologic mapping
DOI 10.3133/fs20203016
Authors Adam M. Hudson, Chester A. Ruleman, Denny M Capps
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Fact Sheet
Series Number 2020-3016
Index ID fs20203016
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center