AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, John Hagen A sow brown bear with three cubs walks along the Denali Park Road in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on May 25. According to the National Park Service, 1,600 road lottery passes were issued for use starting Sept. 17. The number of applicants was down this year from previous years partly due to the $10 fee to enter the lottery.
AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Mi
FAIRBANKS (AP) A $10 entry fee has cut by two-thirds the number of people applying for an autumn drive into Denali National Park.
About 5,800 people entered the 2004 lottery. That's down from 16,000 to 18,000 last year, said National Park Service spokesperson Kris Fister.
Lottery winners get passes to drive up to 90 miles on the park road to Wonder Lake. The park service allows 1,600 people to make the journey.
''It certainly reduced the number of entries,'' Fister told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''It increased the chances for the people that did enter.''
During tourist season, traffic is restricted to tour buses and official vehicles.
Fairbanks resident Theresa Williams said the fee did not discourage her and her mother from entering. Both won permits to drive the road Saturday.
''To me it seemed like it weeded out the people who weren't serious about going,'' Williams said.
Fister said it will be interesting to see how many of the 1,600 people 400 per day starting Friday show up to drive the road.
''I think the most we have ever had show up on a given day was 370 (or) 380,'' she said.
Besides the entry fee, people who win permits will pay $35 to travel up the road, Fister said. That's a $25 increase from past years, when people paid only the $10 park entry fee.
Fister said the park service instituted the fees to pay for the lottery program, which cost up to $90,000 last year.
''I think that it is still a pretty good deal, given what one would spend to take a family to an amusement park or even a movie,'' she said.
Most complaints centered on the entry fee, she said.
Mary Rafter said the fee made no difference to her.
''I am sure there is a lot of paperwork involved and I know the park service financially seems to be strapped, so it was fine,'' she said.
The $10 entry fee was not a deterrent to Kenny Grant of Fairbanks, though he said the $35 for the park entry seemed high.
''I am still going to go because it is quite a nice ride,'' he said. ''And you don't have to be on one of those buses.''
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