Crews reopen Denali park road; stranded tourists leave

Crews reopen Denali park road; stranded tourists leave
In this photo taken Aug. 26, 2016, sightseeing buses and tourists are seen at a pullout popular for taking in views of North America's tallest peak, Denali, in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

DENALI NATIONAL PARK, Alaska (AP) — Road crews have cleared one lane in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve, and buses returned about 300 stranded tourists to the park entrance safely.

The tourists became stranded Friday after heavy rains triggered mudslides and caused excess water from a culvert to damage the only road inside the vast park.

Park spokesman Paul Ollig told The Associated Press that all the stranded passengers were back at the park entrance by midnight.

"Our team did an outstanding job responding to multiple debris slides along a pretty remote section of road," said Erika Jostad, Denali's chief ranger. "The geohazard team monitored conditions while the road crew was clearing debris. It was a great example of teamwork."

Earlier Friday, Denali's superintendent closed Denali Park Road to all traffic at mile 30.

Similar debris flows led to daylong traffic restrictions last week. Continued heavy rains since kept the road and surrounding tundra saturated with water.

Also on Friday, the Alaska Railroad said in a release that it has halted service north of the park because heavy rainfall had caused erosion below a retaining wall.

Passenger and freight service will be suspended through the area until late Monday at the earliest, the railroad said in a statement.

The railroad added that passengers traveling north to or south from Denali Park on the Alaska Railroad or on an Alaska Railroad provided service through Holland America/Princess or Premier Alaska Tours should expect delays.

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This story has been corrected to show Alaska Railroad’s service outage was caused by heavy rain, not high water on the Nenana River, per an updated release.

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