Assessing Geohazards to the Denali National Park Road with Geologic Mapping

Fact Sheet 2020-3016
Prepared in collaboration with the National Park Service
By: , and 



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.

Suggested Citation

Hudson, A.M., Ruleman, C.A., Capps, D.M., 2020, Assessing geohazards to the Denali National Park Road with geologic mapping: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020–3016, 2 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Denali National Park Road— An Economic Lifeline in Alaska
  • U.S. Geological Survey Surficial Geologic Mapping— Identifying Geohazards in the Park Road Corridor
  • Park Road Reroute Planning near Polychrome Overlook
  • Collaborative Research—Active Faults and Glaciation
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Assessing geohazards to the Denali National Park road with geologic mapping
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2020-3016
DOI 10.3133/fs20203016
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 2 p.
Country United States
State Alaksa
Other Geospatial Denali National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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