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by tom walker on Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:04 pm
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As many of you know, Denali National Park has had a Professional Photographers Special Use permit system since 1974 when use of the road was otherwise limited to bus only. This past spring the park modified the program to make it almost unusable. It was done under the guise of "parking control" as mandated by the vehicle Management Plan. This plan, when fully implemented will further limit or increase the difficulty of photographing in the park as it also will affect places like Camp Denali that host photography workshops.

In essence, these are the changes: 1) a permit holder when photographing wildlife may not be outside the vehicle. All passengers (maximum of two occupants) must remain in the vehicle. 2) Landscape photography has no particular provision other than it may only be done at one of about 20 designated temporary parking spots along the Park Road for a limited period of time. 3) Hiking away from the road is prohibited. You may not park your vehicle to approach distant wildlife or attain a landscape vantage point offering better composition. 4) The only parking near the scenic north end of Wonder Lake is a half mile away and photographers may not park their vehicle there and walk to the end of the lake. 5) Temporary stops are limited to one hour but the Photographer vehicle must immediately leave if more than three other vehicles arrive.

That is the gist of the changes. I talked to one Pro, who came all the way from Japan, who got in trouble for leaving his vehicle to set up his tripod. Another Pro was given a warning for walking 50 feet from her vehicle to photograph a pond. Now I know the Denali "ProPho" system has not been popular with many photographers who think it shows favoritism to Professionals but I would caution that should these changes stand, you might find them in place elsewhere as Denali has been the proving ground for other regulations and prohibitions. If you wish to comment write the Superintendent: Don_Striker@nps.gov

Here are the changes new this year:

Denali Road Definitions and Regulations
Definition of Parking: A vehicle is considered parked when passengers and/or driver have disembarked
for an off-vehicle activity other than a temporary stop or wildlife viewing stop; typically this is for a walk
or hike lasting for a few minutes to several hours. Unless specifically permitted, vehicles which receive
authorization to park may not be parked for more than 12 consecutive hours.
Definition of a temporary stop: A vehicle is considered temporarily stopped if it is in a designated rest
stop (Teklanika, Polychrome, Toklat, Eielson) or if stopped in a designated pull out with the passengers
and driver remaining in or in close enough proximity to the vehicle such that the driver and all passengers are capable of quickly entering the vehicle. Temporary stops are for breaks while transiting the Park Road and for drop-off/pick-up of passengers accessing the park. Temporary stops are not for parking while hiking, engaging in extended wildlife photography, etc.
Definition of a Wildlife Stop: A brief stop for wildlife viewing, photo opportunity or other
reasons; however, all occupants must remain in the vehicle and be able to depart quickly.
Who can park: National Park Service (NPS) vehicles and other vehicles specifically authorized by the
Where parking is allowed: Parking is prohibited on the Denali Park Road, except as specifically
authorized by the Superintendent. Authorized parking locations will be designated via the specific
authorizations (permits, contracts, etc.) that allow road use. The 2018 Professional Photographer Road
Travel Permit does not authorize any parking along the restricted section (Mile 15-88) of the Park
Road. Permit holders are allowed temporary stops (at designated pull-outs and rest stops) and
wildlife viewing stops only.
Where temporary stops are allowed: All road users may make temporary stops in designated locations.
Online maps, including an interactive map, identify the location of designated rest stops (Teklanika,
Polychrome, Toklat, and Eielson) and pull-outs.
 Where wildlife viewing stops are allowed: Wildlife viewing stops may occur anywhere along the Park
Road provided that the driver exercises due caution and observes other applicable traffic rules.

by LWO on Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:44 am
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Thanks for the info. Guess I can check that one off the list. No reason for me to waste my time in that park now.

by SantaFeJoe on Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:21 pm
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Pretty sad that we must be considered “undesirable users” of our national parks. What’s the point of not being able to exit your vehicle. I can understand it if you are pursuing animals in a harassing way, but to not even be able to get a better landscape composition is way beyond logical. No professional I know would want to have the same comp as any other shooter. What would be the point of that? It’s hard enough just to get a permit. It’s certainly very discouraging, to say the least to see these changes proposed or implemented.

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso

by Bill Chambers on Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:24 pm
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I've never been to Denali but it's always been on my bucket list but these new regulations seem overly onerous. I do have a question for those pros who may have been fortunate enough to visit there under the old rules. I'm not trying to start a "sh*t storm" here, but seriously asking this - In your professional & objective opinions, were these new rules brought about by unprofessional/unethical behavior by some pros who may have damaged terrain, etc. or are these just an example of unreasonable over-reach?
When life deals you lemons, make lemonade; when it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Mary's.

Please visit my web site, Enchanted Light Photography.
Bill Chambers
Gulf Breeze, Florida

by TomWalker on Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:32 am
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The late answer, no. Not due to unethical or inappropriate behavior. It is an attempt by NPS to conform everyone to a single model of behavior, vehicle-restricted observation and limits on access except by bus. The rules are also part of a bigger plan that also pushes out long-time concessioners like Camp Denali. I doubt there is a more difficult, restrictive park to photograph in, in North America.

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