Rains force Wrangell-St. Elias Closures
July 27, 2010
National Park Service News Release
HEAVY RAINFALL RESTRICTS OFF-ROAD VEHICLE USE IN NABESNA AREA
Due to heavy rainfall in June and July, off-road vehicle (ORV) use off the Nabesna Road in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve will be restricted beginning July 27, announced Park Superintendent Meg Jensen. Off-road vehicles, including ATVs and track vehicles, will be permitted only on gravel and rocky trails such as Trail Creek and Lost Creek until soil saturation conditions improve. The temporary closure will apply 660’ either side of centerline for the following trails: Suslota, Caribou Creek, Soda Lake, Reeve Field, Jacksina Creek, Tanada Lake, Copper Lake, Boomerang, and Batzulnetas.
Superintendent Jensen emphasized that the trails and the Nabesna Road itself are still open to hunters and recreationists on foot or horseback. However, Nabesna Road conditions may limit access to some trailheads and it is best to check local conditions before departing for the area. "This is only a temporary restriction on off-road vehicles," said Jensen.
"We are monitoring the amount of water that has soaked into the soils and is flowing on the surface of the trails. As soon as saturation levels return to normal conditions, the trails will re-open to both subsistence and recreational off-road vehicle access. This will depend on a number of weather-related factors such as air as soil temperature, evaporation rates and additional rainfall."
Recreational and subsistence access to the Park and Preserve, including access by ORVs is permitted on some established trails, under normal circumstances. Most of the ORV use on these established routes is during the hunting season, which opens August 10. "The decision to restrict the off- road vehicle access was based on the potential for soil damage to those trails that are muddy and rain-soaked already," said Jensen. "The restriction only affects those access routes that cross the rain-soaked tundra environments. Once a mudhole is created, other ORV users tend to go around it, making the trails wider and braided." The temporary restriction is also based on safety considerations. Many creeks in the area are in flood stage and depths fluctuate widely. A creek that is fordable by an ATV in the afternoon may be completely impassable by the next morning.
The condition of the 42-mile-long Nabesna Road is highly variable. State road crews have been working diligently to re-route water, fix wash-outs, replace culverts, and maintain the ever-challenging Lost and Trail Creek crossings.
A public meeting to discuss the restriction is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, August 2, at the Slana School. For regular updates and information on open trails along the Nabesna Road, please call the Slana Ranger Station at 822-7401 or Bruce Rogers at 822-7276.
I've been thinking about taking the four-wheelers to Nabesna Road. Under normal conditions how far back do the trails go? Is it worth trailering the quads out there for some recreational riding?
I went out there over Memorial Day weekend last year. Frankly, I wasn't that impressed. Most of the longer trails (particularly those at the west end) are closed to non-subsistence riding. The remaining ones were either extremely swampy, or up creek beds. The problem with the creek beds was that they were criss-crossed with deep channel cuts, many of the rocks were large enough (i.e., basketball-sized) to be uncomfortable to ride on, and there was no real trail to follow. The road was fine to ride ATVs on, but it's a graded gravel road, so not exactly exciting riding, except for a few shallow creek crossings. Perhaps going with someone who knows the area, and during a dry spell would give better results.
Originally Posted by AKwheeler
You can find much better riding on the Denali Highway, which is considerably closer.