A member of the fire crew makes their way to the front lines of the wildfires at Denali National Park. Credit: Paul Ollig/NPS

Denali National Park Has No Timeline to Reopen As Wildfires Burn Outside Entrance

Officials say facilities at Denali National Park will be closed indefinitely as crew battle wildfires burning outside the entrance.

Officials say facilities at Denali National Park and Preserve will be closed indefinitely as crew battle wildfires burning outside the entrance. According to press materials, the park issued evacuation orders on June 30.

Timeline of the Denali National Park wildfire

June 30

Park officials discovered the fire near the park entrance and closed some trails and facilities. They explained that wildfires were reported about one mile from the entrance at milepost 239. They named it the Riley Fire as it's burning near the Riley Creek Campground.

In less than five hours, the fire spread to 350 acres. The park service deployed almost two dozen smokejumpers to the scene. By evening time, the park issued evacuation orders for some park employees, closed Riley Creek Campground, and suspended park operations. As crews worked throughout the day and night, officials requested the help of additional hotshot crews.

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riley fire

The Riley Fire as seen from the Nenana River Canyon business area near the Denali National Park entrance. Credit: NPS

July 1

Officials said the fire crews made progress as they worked nonstop to stop the blaze. With cooler weather, they managed to keep the fire from spreading beyond the estimated 350 acres. They also said the cause of the fire was still unknown, but they plan on investigating the incident.

July 2

While the Riley Fire continued to burn, officials say fire crews made significant progress, particularly along the fire's southern flank. As crews used hoses along the fire's edge, others used large water buckets hanging from helicopters and single-engine water scoopers to help extinguish the flames. By 6 p.m., crews contained 25% of the fire near the entrance.

Using imagery data, fire managers estimated that the fire spread to approximately 388 acres. However, crews contained 10% of the fire on the southern flank. Additionally, two interagency crews from the lower 48 arrived on the scene and started developing plans to join the firefighting effort.

riley fire

Fire crews continue to make good progress fighting the Riley Fire adjacent to the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. Credit: NPS

July 3

The Park Service reported that cloudy skies and cooler temperatures are aiding fire crews as they continue to work near the fire's edge.