WRANGELL-ST. ELIAS NATIONAL PARK


Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest park in the US, and conjoined with adjacent Kluane in Canada, the largest area of protected land on the Earth.  The park is difficult to get to.  For those who want to set foot into it, you can’t–without a significant drive or a day on a bicycle.  It is 7-8 hours from Anchorage up the Richardson highway, which has a lot of no passing zones on the first part and construction with flagmen on the second part.  Then, one takes route 4 south about 30 miles.  The visitor’s center is along this road, but you are not in the Park.  You turn at a sign that says Chitina 33 miles, McCarthy 93 miles, and the distances are accurate.  The last 60 to McCarthy is on a dirt road, which is better than it used to be, but the first 10 miles aren’t great.  Plan on 35 mph after that, and watch for those who are doing 45 or more coming the other way.  You end at a river, where you park for $5 a day, and call a lodge to bring a vehicle down to pick you up.  It is about a half mile walk, and camping is allowed at the river for $20 a night.  The town is not in the Park, but one has passed through the Park and Preserve many times on the drive in.  The town is lovely, quaint, and the food/lodging good.  It’s 5 miles up the road to Kennicott, but there is a shuttle, should one wish.

For me, this is a climbers park and a fly-sightseeing park.  There is certainly good backcountry for camping, and there is a lot of it.

McCarthy Road

McCarthy road.

Trestle from a century ago, McCarthy Road.

Wrangells

Copper River

Matanuska Glacier, Richardson Highway.

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