Several major highways in Alaska are unmaintained during winter. Traveling on these roads from October through May is unadvised because the roads often become impassable. But these popular highways are attractions for many in the summer months. When do Alaska’s highways reopen so we can all drive and play anywhere in the state? Here’s a look at some of the major highways that are closed in winter and where to find information on when they reopen.
Alaska 511 is operated by the state Department of Transportation and is the go-to authority for the question when do Alaska’s highways reopen. It provides information on closures, road work, weather incidents and more. You can create an account on 511 and sign up to receive alerts for certain routes you’d like to stay informed about.
Denali Park Road
From October until mid-February the Denali Park Road is maintained only to the park headquarters at mile 3.4. The road is open to the public to mile 30 from late April until the shuttle buses start running in mid-May. From mid-May to mid-September, shuttle buses and tour buses provide transportation past mile 15. Park road access to mile 30 opens again to the public after mid-September through the first major snowfall, usually in October.
The first 15 miles of the park road are open to all vehicles through the whole summer.
Conditions for the park road can be found on the park website.
The entire length of the Denali Highway, from Paxson to Cantwell, is closed during winter. Road maintenance on the highway ends on October 15. Crews begin working to open the highway in April or early May. The highway typically reopens by May 15.
Taylor and Top of the World Highways
Both the Taylor and Top of the World highways, which form part of the Klondike Loop, are unmaintained from mid-October to May.
Check the road conditions on 511.Alaska.gove before traveling the whole loop in the early summer or fall. Also be sure to check if the George Black ferry is operating and confirm that U.S. and Canadian custom stations are open.
The McCarthy Road leads from Chitina at the end of the Edgerton Highway into the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The road is mostly unpaved and is unmaintained during winter.