A patriotic convoy arrives at Denali National Park on May 26 to protest the fact that construction crewmen were told not to fly the American flag while driving through the park.

The Federal Highway Administration has confirmed that the National Park Service was behind the effort to prohibit construction crewmen in Denali National Park from flying the American flag from their trucks while driving through the park.

In a May 23 article that was picked up by major media outlets across the nation, the Alaska Watchman reported that crewman working on a 475-foot bridge located 43 miles into the heart of the park were told they could no longer fly Old Glory from their vehicles. Citing an anonymous whistleblower who was working on the project, the Watchman noted that workers had been flying three-foot by five-foot U.S. flags from their trucks without incident, until shortly before the park began running tour buses down Denali Park Road.

The whistleblower blamed Denali National Park Superintendent Brook Merrell, who oversees all park operations. He claimed Merrell informed a Federal Highway Administration official overseeing the bridge project that there had been complaints about the flags and that they needed to be taken down because they detracted from visitors’ “park experience.”

That Americans working in a national park would be restricted from flying the U.S. flag from their trucks sparked national outrage, and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan sent a letter to the National Park Service head in Washington, D.C., demanding a full accounting of what transpired.

“This is an outrage – particularly in the lead-up to our most solemn national holiday, Memorial Day, a time when Americans come together to honor those that gave their lives in service to our nation, while wearing the country’s flag,” Sullivan wrote. “The American flag, especially on Memorial Day weekend, should be celebrated, not censored by federal government employees.”

After Denali National Park officials failed to respond to Watchman questions for the initial article, the National Park Service (NPS) issued a one-paragraph statement on May 26 as the story gained national attention.

“Reports that a National Park Service (NPS) official ordered the removal of an American flag from a Denali bridge construction worker’s vehicle at Denali National Park are false,” NPS claimed. “At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles.”

Denali Park spokesman Peter Christian was then asked by the Anchorage Daily News if he was aware of anything that could have led to the perception that the park was attempting to ban or limit the display of flags by workers in the park.

“I can’t begin to speculate on how such an unfortunate miscommunication occurred,” Christian told ADN. When pressed whether there had been any incident involving a flag, Christian wrote, “At no time did an NPS official seek to ban or limit the flag.”

On May 29, however, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) spokesperson sent a written account of the incident to the Watchman, explaining that park officials were, in fact, behind the flag removal.

“NPS staff relayed concerns to FHWA – as it does with all feedback related to the project – regarding single occupant vehicle traffic, as well as a visitor complaint about a flag on a vehicle while the vehicle was in motion,” the FHWA spokesperson stated. “FHWA brought both concerns to the responsible contractor, who addressed the situation per their usual process.”

The Watchman also contacted Granite Construction, the private contractor building the bridge for the FHWA. On May 30, a Granite spokesperson confirmed that the FHWA had relayed the NPS complaint about flags affixed to construction worker vehicles.

“On May 16, 2024, our client notified us that a visitor complained that one of our vehicles was creating a noise disturbance by traveling through the park with a mounted flag and our client asked that the flag be removed,” Granite explained. “We always work to be responsive to our client’s concerns and complied. Our interest is in safely completing this important project while being considerate of park visitors and their desire to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.”

The Granite statement noted that it “proudly display our nation’s flag at our offices, plants, and jobsites in Alaska – and across the United States.”

Denali Park officials do not have jurisdiction or control over the bridge worksite area, and following the flag complaints, Granite has continued to allow employees to fly the flags from their vehicles so long as they are within the limited confines of the bridge worksite. Once they leave this area, however, and travel down the park road where park officials have jurisdiction, the flags must be removed.

The Watchman has repeatedly reached out to Denali National Park for a full explanation as to why they wanted the flags removed. The only response came on May 29 when spokesman Peter Christian wrote, “We’re continuing to look into this, and I’ll circle back to you when I have something to share. I appreciate your patience.”

The Watchman has sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking internal communications between park staff and FHWA officials with regard to the flag controversy. Updates will be provided as details emerge.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Federal agency confirms National Park was behind removal of U.S. flags from trucks in Denali Park

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • michael grindstaff says:

    Yeah so…this didn’t happen…lol

    • Kevin says:

      it did happen, the woman in charge worked in Portland, an activist . FLY THE FLAG FREE SPEECH..

      • Jon q says:


      • Donald Herndon says:

        Sorry it is against the USMC Flag etiquette manual instructions that NO flag shall adorn ANY VEHICLE unless they are heads of state, only the president, period. Has absolutely nothing to do with free speech because our Union Flag is to be treated as a living, breathing and alive human being. So READ IT!!

    • Reggie Taylor says:

      Yeah, how many commenters denied that this happened? There’s an illustration of the hazards of opening one’s mouth without waiting for the facts. Good job, Watchman. There have been plenty of published slurs about your journalistic integrity out there.

      • Jon q says:

        red hats need to be angry at someone. lol

      • MHJ says:

        Did you miss the part where it was a concern of a visitor passed on, not the Park Service?

      • Lee says:

        We as Americans know this happens because I have a friend that works for that Construction Company. But see the problem is they have all these liberals who don’t believe in America. They only believe in their ideology. Next they want the Gay pride flags to fly there. I think it’s time people should just boycott that park if they don’t allow American flag to be flown behind a truck in the noise incident is faults because it doesn’t go above 85 dB. So let the American flag fly freely, stands for God and country.

    • Jon q says:

      this is all lies. made up by red hats.

    • Brian McGonigle says:

      You should be able to fly the flag anywhere in this great country national Park or not This is United States of America. I fly my flag The United States of America flag every day probably if you don’t like it look away


      I’m not sure how to comment on this so I’m doing it in your comment block.
      I’m a veteran of the Vietnam war and I am proud to fly the American flag any chance I get I own a pickup truck and a semi. I proudly fly the American flag from both.
      My question is, what the hell kind of noise does the flag produce? Please don’t take this the wrong way. I think your comments are true to the letter.

      • MHJ says:

        I assume the “visitor” just wanted to complain and that the noise was from the vehicle, not the flag.

      • Alex Hardy says:

        flag code bro. the vast majority of truck flags are extreamly damaged and the act of driving is what is shredding them. zero actual respect for Old Glory the emblem that dropped my grandpa’s casket out of respect and honor for his ww2 heroism. it blows my mind how you all loose collective sanity over respectfully taking a knee but fully endorse flying shredded glory

      • Jerry says:

        I took am a veteran. I am glad that our flag is being flown on a more regular basis. but I am disappointed that many of these flags are torn. if you are going to fly the flag , let us do it right.

      • KCG says:

        You’re a veteran and you’ve never heard a flag snapping in the wind? I lived on bases for years and live next to a DAV Hall currently and they’re loud as can be. They don’t flutter at 20 MPH. They snap loudly. Enough to keep you up at night if someone isn’t respectful enough to follow Flag Code and retire them at dusk.

      • David howell says:

        stooge TDS MUCH LOL whats up Kevin .

  • Charles collier says:

    they need to fire every SOB WITH the park service who had any thing to do with this mess.

    • michael grindstaff says:

      This never happened…its just totally made up.

      • USFlag says:

        I’d be interested to see your source on this being a completely false story. Or are we supposed to just take your word for it?

      • Jake Libbey says:

        That’s a humorous statement. The whistleblower told the Alaska Watchman, the Federal Highway Administration has now publicly admitted it passed on the “complaint” and Granite construction confirmed that it received the “complaint” and immediately complied with the Park Service’s request. What exactly about this story is false in any way, shape or form? What is ridiculous is the notion of an anonymous complaint based on the “noise” of a flapping America flag from a truck for the 2 seconds that you *might* be able to hear it as it drove by at the park speed limit? Please. This is my opinion, but I believe Superintendent Merrell likens anyone personally flying an American flag on their vehicle to a republican, redneck hillbilly Trump supporter and so she flexed on the contractor and is now hiding behind a preposterous “noise complaint” she never received. I can’t prove that suspicion, so that kind of editorial is not in the story, the follow up, or this latest update. But that makes a damnsight more sense than someone was bothered enough to complain to park management about the sound coming from a small 3×5 polyester flag as it drove by them at 35mph, ONCE. Furthermore, that the park would take such a frivolous complaint so seriously as to bully up and demand the flags on vehicles be removed IS THE WHOLE STORY. That and that they totally lied about it, and those lies were picked up and used to call Joel out as a liar and a fraud, even though they are and were demonstrably true. Like all our reporting over COVID, it’s really nice to be on the right side of history and have all the lies of the left come out in the end. Looking forward to the FOIA requests and what they reveal.

      • Proud Alaskan says:

        Get a life you troll, because you hate America and our flag.
        Leave and move to some third world country and stay there, Please don’t come back you’re not wanted here.

      • Chuzzlewit says:

        You must be a Dickens fan. That can’t be your real name. If your id here wasn’t intentional, it’s hilarious

      • Mark says:

        Read the article, comrade

      • Mike says:

        what evidence do you have that didn’t happen?

      • Jon q says:

        True. but rd hats Love it

      • Jon q says:


    • Tommy Two Gears says:

      spot on! Starting with that hack leftist superintendent …..all of ’em LIED about the circumstances on this.

      • Charlotte says:

        More Demoncrats entering through an open portal to continue turning this country upside down . They love the sound of their own flapping gums better than the sound of the flapping flag. After yesterday’s verdict, they should prepare for a rude awakening! It’s coming in November and it will be preceded by unfringed American flags and a beautiful sea of red. Meantime, I hope you enjoy your other favorite pastime, also covered by the Watchman: the Alaska drag queens working hard to help legalize pedophilia. That, too, will soon be gone. Great job, Watchman, we are very fortunate that you are exposing the dark underbelly of what has been kept hidden from view. And many thanks to the whistleblower. Never surrender!

      • Jon q says:

        no. you rd hats Mae this up. cult member

    • John Costello says:

      this country was founded by enlightened men who broke the chains of obedience to a king to forge a new vehicle to transport the individual to new levels of personal freedom. they would be appalled at the ignorance of the maga movement and its forced, phoney and gratuitous flag flying.
      magas aren’t Americans, they’re the kings men, loyalists, not free men, not free in thought or self fulfillment.

      • JC says:

        How is Making America Great Again somehow ‘the kings men’? You need to learn history because those who left England do so because of the kings policy prohibiting them to worship The Creator and why freedom to worship and recognition that rights come from God is so prominent in the Bill of Rights.

      • Charlotte Pastore says:

        I wish I was up there and not in texas . I’d be up there Flying old glory in that protest. cause that is total BS

    • Mary says:

      I agree with Charles!

  • Diana says:

    The day is coming when all those who made that decision will be fired. We’ll have a chance to celebrate. To think that the Park Service is the care and custodians of the deceased veterans that die in wars and those who served and are buried in National Cemeteries, is such an insult to the families of those buried there. The flag of the United States is the image of freedom in the world. Those who work for the Park Service like any other federal agency take an oath to the United States and the Constitution when they are hired. I hope each person who made that decision will no longer have a job in the next presidency we are all looking forward too.

    • Kevin Moran says:

      Well said. America is under attack. RINOs, MSM, 99% of college professors, public school officials and most teachers, most mainstream religions (especially Catholic), NPR ABC CBS NBC FOX TELEMUNDO, Hollyweird… etc etc. are all to blame.

    • Jon q says:

      whatever red hat

      • Joan says:

        How many variations of the truth are going to be published? Just drop it. You don’t know what h a opened and never will.

  • Izzie says:

    I’m guessing that if there was a legit complaint and a request to take down the flag, it likely wasn’t an American flag. Yet to be resolved I guess.

    • Kevin Moran says:

      What part of the story don’t you understand? Wake up.

    • Tommy Two Gears says:

      You’re not guessing……..
      you’re dreaming.

    • Bernie says:

      Be advised the complaint was confirmed All those animals involved should be FIRED. Have no fear NOTHING will be done because there are NO politicians out with guts enough to do anything. If you don’t like my FLAG or my COUNTRY, GET OUT!! TAKE PRIDE IN AMERICA, BE PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
      Vietnam Veteran

      • SHANE HOLT says:

        thanks for your service…SIR!! i agree 500%

      • Frick says:

        Thank you for your service!

      • Jon q says:

        too many IED right dude. lol. and I’m a Vet

      • Travis says:

        Thanks for you service, and welcome home.

      • KCG says:

        Did you just call a person an animal and dehumanize them in a call to try to get them to lose their job because they don’t share your same extreme political views? You know, exactly like Hitler did with the Jews? How do you people not see it?! Did you take basic history classes?

    • SHANE HOLT says:

      right….over your head

    • turbodigits says:

      It was an American flag, but the request to take it down wasn’t about hatred for the flag or tamping down free expression. It was about the snapping noise the flag was making when the employee drove down the road. A park guest was concerned that the racket might dissuade wildlife from coming near the road where it could be viewed. The guest asked a NPS employee if something could be done, and the NPS employee passed the question on to the FHWA, who passed it on to the contractor, who acknowledged that their contract requires them to do their work with a minimum of disruption to the park experience for guests. The contractor therefore told the employee they couldn’t drive down the road with a noisy flag in the bed of their truck. The NPS employee took it upon themselves to do this without checking in with their supervisor, so nobody else knew about it (including the superintendent who got shredded here). Resolution: NPS has educated the employee on communication protocols. The contractor forbade the employee to drive through the park making unnecessary noise, but apparently didn’t do a great job of explaining why, so the employee complained to Senator Sullivan. The employee still gets to display the flag when parked at the job site.

      • Chris Rice says:

        A single guest? A single complaint? That is the tyranny of a very, very small minority. Are we supposed to believe the snapping sound of a flag was loud enough to be heard over an engine? In likely densely wooded terrain?

  • Michael Chambers says:

    it is abundantly clear that the NPS is playing a game of CYA. They moved the goal posts to define the complaint as a “noise” violation. the big question…Will any NPS staff be held accountable for a severe lack of judgement? Thank God it was not a Mexican flag..
    The Biden administration would be all over the superintendent like white on rice.

    • Sal says:

      …or a Russian flag

    • Jo says:

      True. The same for a Palestinian or gay right flag.

    • AK Expat says:

      Yes, this looks like CYA all the way to me.

    • Will says:

      The contractor, after receiving the NPS complaint, told their employees they could fly the flag on the job site but not the NPS roads. My question is: What authority does the contractor have over their employees after they leave work? The flag-flying employees should tell all authority figures to go pound salt. The only downside to that is if Alaska is an “at will” state and the employees could be fired. Of course, NPS could also hold a grudge against the contractor.

      • AK Expat says:

        The root of this is the NPS person that passed along the complaint: The park superintendent telling the gederal highway person “Hey we’ve had some complaints about the noise caused by construction workers flags flying on the back of their trucks in the park” is the same thing as the park superintendent saying to the federal highway person “We don’t want flags flying from the backs of trucks in the park”. What did the expect to happen from “Passing along complaints” (weasel words). CYA

  • ML Moore, just common sense says:

    I’d be more likely to believe the Watchman, than I would our government, or the media it controls. Keep up the good work Joel!

  • Kate says:

    Thank you, Federal Highway Administration for dumping this back in the lap of the National Park Service, not letting them hide behind their weak statements.

  • Trish says:

    Thank you for pursuing the story. The truth always comes out.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    A few weeks after the National Park Service had told workers in Denali National Park not to drive through the park with American flags on their trucks, because it offended someone, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland on Friday raised the “pride flag” over a federal memorial site in Washington, D.C. She used government employees to assist her.
    Like I said earlier about the pride sicko flag. That they would be putting up a flag, to fly, over Federal lands. All of you haters out there that cried it’s not true. Is this story not true either ?

  • Oran Kelley says:

    Well, the literate among you might note that neither the Highway Administration nor the contractor says NOS asked for flag flying go away. They got a complaint about a flag on a moving vehicle, they relayed this complaint, as apparently is standard, the complaint was passed on to the contractor, the contractor responded how they responded. That’s all it says. It doesn’t say NPS sought to rid the site of the flag, it doesn’t say NOS sought any specific outcome at all. Just that they passed on a complaint “as it does with all feedback.”

    The flag-flyers may not be half-literate, gap-toothed hillbillies, but perhaps some readers here are.

    • Shelly Wilkins says:

      Thank you for being the voice of reason. Flying the flag was not banned. It simply can’t be flown on a moving vehicle.
      If the driver of the truck in question is anything like the hillbillies that do so around here, the vehicle was likely driven in an intimidating manner, blowing coal.

      • Mark says:

        Congratulations – you’re a bigot.

      • M. MacAllistair says:

        All vehicles are being driven respectfully. Stopping for busses, under 10mph past pedestrians or cyclists. These are company vehicles, not personal.

      • Frick says:

        Bless your little heart!

      • El Dukeo says:

        You nailed it! whole lot of those Wingnuts out there!
        The MAGAGts because of their Dear Leader The Trumpolini have turned of Nations flag into a Nationalistic, religious right wing fundamentalists hate and racist cult symbol!

      • Jon q says:


      • JC says:

        El Dukeo, you sound like you are full of hate. If you don’t like our love for country and desire to Make America Great Again, then leave!! BTW Make America Great Again was used long before President Trump.

  • Sean says:

    Don’t believe any of the rhetoric from the national Park service. this whole department is composed of nothing but wacko environmentalists who are anti-American. I guarantee you 100%. this is from the Communist infiltrated national Park service . The whole mission of Park directors within the national Park service is to restrict and limit as much as possible. Americans ability to visit our property. it’s all they want to do is close roads and close access. They are nothing but little petty dictators.

    everywhere I’ve ever gone, it’s the national park or the national Forest service directors trying to do everything they can to prevent the public from accessing the public land .

    These regional Park directors are among the first tyrants that need to be put up against the tree of Liberty.

    • George says:

      You are so right, and Biden appointed radical America hating environmentalists to head the Department of the Interior (Deb Haaland) and the Bureau of Land Management (Tracy Stone-Manning). Stone-Manning was is a former Earth First member associated with tree spiking.

    • CD says:

      I’m sure your right.

    • Jon q says:


    • Me says:

      I’ve hiked all these lands valiantly. I broke plenty of rules. Just avoid the park folk fool.

  • Sal says:

    Like a park visitor could even here a 3×5 flag flapping over the noise of 10 wheels or more of a construction vehicle on a paved or gravel road along with the grunt of a large displacement diesel.

  • Sal says:

    Like a park visitor could even hear a 3×5 flag flapping over the noise of 10 wheels or more of a construction vehicle on a paved or gravel road along with the grunt of a large displacement diesel.

  • Frozen says:

    Once again, excellent work Joel!

  • William R Smith Jr says:

    no advertising on here! administrators should block you. this is not an advertising site!

  • Raymond says:

    Hopefully the cleansing of America will soon come.
    Those thay are offended by our flag and culture need to be the first to go.

  • Patrick Shiflea says:

    The “facts” on this issue appear to be the statements in quotations from the Federal Highway Administration and Granite Construction. Then there is some editorial icing and supposed connecting of the dots back to the National Park Service and to the Park Superintendent. Then beyond that, another set of dots connecting this issue to a woke leftist agenda. That extra connection may just reflect individual bias. Do you want that to be true, or is it just sensationalizing this issue? I am sorry, but I read the statements from the Federal Highway Administration and Granite Construction and I don’t jump to the same conclusions.

  • Fred Romero says:

    Old US Marine here (62-66) and after all these years
    I can’t forget the names and faces of my boot camp buddies who never came back home from fighting under the flag of the US of A… us old guys may not count for much anymore, but by God we will honor “Old Glory” until our last breath!

    • Frick says:

      Thank you for your service to this once great country! I think we will overcome all of this hot social mess we got going on right now. Eventually. Go Trump!!

  • Don says:

    The noise of a flag on a pickup flapping in the wind vs a diesel tour bus? It’s not the animals being bothered, it’s someone that’s bothered by the US Flag. I did the full Denali tour ride when I worked in Alaska circa 1980s. The animals were definitely aware of the buses.

  • Frick says:

    Shame on the nps! Another unAmerican arm of the federal government run amok!! Think fbi, doj, irs, usps, lgbtqrstuvwxyz also!!

  • Joe Wood says:

    I find it particularly interesting that just last week the NPS denied the incident ever happened but here we are this week and now the NPS confirmed and admit that the incident took place to save face.
    Either way the Granite Construction company and crew were denied the First Amendment Right of Freedom of Expression to fly the American Flag during Memorial Day Weekend to Honor the Men and Women who parished defending our country and way of life in uniform with the American Flag on said uniform. That is a slap in the face of those Serving our Country, especially those who lost their lives while protecting our freedoms, it’s “their” Day Of Remembrance on Memorial Day Weekend and it our duty to Honor the fallen and Granite Construction company and crew had every right to fly the American Flag in Honor of “their” Day as is every American has the same Right.
    I live in Alaska and worked outside the entrance of Denali National Park and I know for a fact that the American Flag is flown at the Visitors Center and throughout the Park and at Mile 45 of the Park road just 2 miles past Granite Construction site at Mile 43. The Denali National Park Superintendent Ms Merrell can’t pick and choose where and when the American Flag is flown.

  • Len says:

    I to am a Vietnam veteran and think anyone associated with the NPS miss guided judgement should be terminated and sent to some place like Afghanistan. Maybe their attitudes would be morphed into believing in the good USA.

  • Charles Sela says:

    that stretch of Denali road I would bet has a rather low speed limit since wildlife is prent and busses snd cars are fewuemtly stopping to view wildlife. So at 30 or 35 mph bow much noise do you figure old glory makes. I I doubt the flags were ripping in the wind and if so the driver was most lkkely exceeding the speed limit and should have been ticketed if ghis was the case
    Seems to me its a case of NPS/LE harassing. visitors

  • Charles Sela says:

    wbo actuaLly filed this complaint…..was it an NPS employee? Speed limit is slow on that stretch and flags would not create a disturbance at the posted speed limit

  • Arkitekt says:

    hateful activists have no business working for the government. that official needs to be officially removed from her office.

  • lill says:

    great articles Alberta & it’s every one’s land

  • David says:

    I imagine that all visitors are guilty of trying to weaken our nativeness, and should respect native cultures, native cultures were not born with American flag, American think they bought Alaska. we were not notified before buy Alaska from Russia, and called us native uneducated and uncivilized, and killed alot native people, under federal watch, and no names were made at grave site where they hid the native bodies, and burned little babies in like Hitler killed alot of Jewish people, same thing happened in United States of America red flag flying. only white people complain about thier trying again to control our native land. we’re not intimidating by red flags flyers.

  • Chris Slagle says:

    Darn flag flyers!
    I can’t hear the bear farts!

  • Dave says:

    How does a flag flapping in the wind on a truck make enough noise to where it ruined someone’s wilderness experience? I live out in the country and I can hear a vehicle coming down the road from almost a mile away. There’s no way a flag will make more noise than a vehicle. Maybe they should shutdown all the roads into the park, that’s the only way to eliminate any noise that can ruin your wilderness experience.

    • Yvonne says:

      You’ve obviously never been beside a large golf flapping in the wind. It makes a VERY loud popping noise – not the steady sound of a car. If you live in the country, you know loud noises spook wildlife. Loud noise all day every day can cause wildlife to flee an area – leaving behind eggs and other youngling among other issues. Common sense and courtesy should tell people not to make unnecessary loud noise in National Parks or any wilderness setting.

    • Yvonne says:

      Damn you, Autocorrect! LOUD NOISE! Not “large golf”.

  • Mystikyl says:

    I go to parks to see the parks…not a bunch of faketriots virtue signaling. Good on the parks for making them take them down!

  • Yvonne says:

    The United States flag is prominently displayed at all National Parks and the Park DID publicly respond to your ridiculous article. All National parks have rules regarding litter, staying on trails, park hours, etc. Other rules relate to unnecessary loud noise. Have you ever been around a large flag blowing in the wind? It’s a beautiful site, but makes a very loud popping noise that would scare wildlife. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was just someone passing through. However, it would be a big issue to animals in the area if it was a happening 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week. There are plenty of things wrong with our government to get people riled up about without adding nonsense like this. You should be ashamed for causing things of people to start driving through this and other parks deliberately flying the largest flags they can find to “show them” when really they’re only hurting the wildlife in the area for absolutely no reason other than you writing this ridiculous article. You should be ashamed.
    (PS – You required an email address to post a comment. Do not share my email address with other companies or send and advertising to me.)