Wrangell – St. Elias National Park
Bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland (combined).
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve is the largest area managed by the national park service. It was initially designated a national monument by President Carter in 1978 but subsequent legislation in 1980 turned it into a national park and preserve. The park includes mountains from both the St. Elias Mountains and the Wrangell Mountains, including the active volcano Mount Wrangell, as well as an icefield and glaciers.
Open / Close / Reopening Status of Wrangell-St Elias National Park due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The NPS Administrative Office in Copper Center is temporarily closed to the public as of March 24, 2020. Services such as interpretive programs, in-person trip planning, in-person backcountry information, bear resistant food container loans, and public restrooms at the visitor centers are delayed and may resume on July 1, 2020.
Last Updated: May 2, 2020
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Some Hotels and Other Lodging Options:
Roundtrip Flights to Anchorage
Nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the United States are located here, in the largest national park in the United States and the largest wilderness area in the National Preservation System. Mt. St. Elias in the park is the second highest peak in the United States (18,008 feet). It has the largest non-polar valley glacier (Nabesna Glacier), the largest non-polar piedmont glacier in North America (Malaspina Glacier) and one of the largest and most active tidwater glaciers in North America (Hubbard Glacier).
Copper Center Visitor Center – The area contains the visitor center, a bookstore, an exhibit hall, the Ahtna Cultural Center, scenic overlooks and short hiking trails. It is located 10 miles south of the intersection of Glenn Highway and the Richardson Highway – approximately 200 miles east of Anchorage and 250 miles south of Fairbanks. The Visitor Center is open from mid-May through September, although the precise dates vary by year, even though the park and public lands remain open all year.
Wrangell Mountains – Most of this high mountain range in eastern Alaska is inside the park. The range is named for Mount Wrangell, an active volcano and one of the largest andesite shield volcanoes in the world. It also has the second and third highest volcanoes in the United States, which are inactive. The Wrangell Mountains are northwest of the Saint Elias Mountains and northeast of the Chugach Mountains.
St Elias Mountains – A subgroup of the Pacific Coast Ranges through southeastern Alaska and parts of Canada, which is the highest coastal mountain range on Earth. The range crosses the park and includes all of Glacier Bay National Park.
McCarthy Road – A 60 mile gravel road taking visitors deep into Wrangell-St. Elias. It begins at mile 33 Edgerton Highway, in Chitina, AK and requires at least 2 hours each way. McCarthy and Kennecott are located a half mile and five miles, respectively, from the end of the road at the Kennicott River.
Nabesna Road – This unpaved road maintained by the Alaska state DOT offers views of the Wrangell, Mentasta and Nutzotin Mountains. The road begins at mile 60 of the Glenn Highway (Tok Cutoff) and extends for 42 miles. It requires at least 1.5 hours each way to make it to the end and back. No fuel is available – the nearest fuel is in Chistochina or Mentasta. During spring runoff or after prolonged rain, there are three creeks.
Chitina – It sits one hour from the Copper Creek Visitor Center at the end of Edgerton Highway and the start of McCarthy Road. Sitting on the Copper River, it was in the early 1900s an intermediate stop for trains hauling copper ore and passengers from Kennecott. The Chitina Ranger Station is a historic 1910 log cabin which opens daily in the summer, typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day, although the start/end dates fluctuate.
McCarthy – This town sits across the footbridge a half mile from the parking area at the end of the road.
Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark – The historic and abandoned copper mining town of Kennecott is located in Wrangell-St. Elias, 4.5 miles from McCarthy. The last mine closed in 1938. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Root Glacier – The Root Glacier Trail is a well maintained 4 mile hiking trail from the main street in Kennicott. It is approximately 2 miles (one way) from Kennicott to the glacier (via a spur trail). It provides views of Mt. Blackburn, Regal Mountain and Donaho Peak. Other trails from Kennicott are the Jumbo Mine Trail and the Bonanza Mine Trail.
Kennicott Glacier – The Kennicott Glacier stretches from Mount Blackburn to the head of the Kennicott River. Access to the toe of the Glacier is via a short .75 miles one way spur trail from the Wagon Road about 3/4 mile from the McCarthy Museum. The Root Glacier Trail from Kennicott travels between the Kennicott Glacier and Root Glacier.
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park Lodging:
The park does not offer frontcountry camping. There are a few different lodging options at the end of McCarthy Road in McCarthy and Kennicott, including Kennicott Glacier Lodge, McCarthy Lodge, the Ma Johnson Hotel, and Currant Ridge.
Kennicott Glacier Lodge – A family owned lodge in the ghost town of Kennicott
Currant Ridge – Modern guest houses in McCarthy with full kitchens and decks with views.
McCarthy Lodge & Ma Johnson’s Hotel – A flagship hotel and backpacker’s lodge in McCarthy.
Hotel Chitina – A renovated hotel in downtown Chitina with a full service restaurant, saloon and beer garden, located at Mile 33 of the Edgerton Highway.
Copper River Campground – This is a primitive campground with 12 camp and RV sites by the Alaska Department of Transportation at Mile 1.6 of the McCarthy Road.
Jumbo Creek Camping Area is a primitive camping area at the toe of Root Glacier accessed on foot by the Root Glacier Trail.
Copper River Princess Lodge – It is located on the edge of the park about six miles south of the visitor center.
Hart D Ranch – RV and rooms available at the Hart D Ranch and Wrangell Roost Lodge at the northern entrance to the park near Nabesna Road and Slana.
Other Alaska Parks:
Sitka National Historical Park – Sitka NHP is the oldest federally designated historical park in Alaska, preserving aspects of the Tlingit and Russian experiences in Alaska. The Battle of Sitka between the Tlingit people and Russian fur hunters happened at the Tlingit fort here in 1804. There is also a totem pole collection that were gathered from 1903 to 1905 and displayed here.
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve – It is home to impressive tidewater glaciers, snow-capped mountains and wildlife west of Juneau. It was first preserved as a national monument by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – The discovery of gold in the Klondike river in Canada brought thousands of people to the area to make the 600 mile trek to the site of the discovery.
Kenai Fjords National Park – The crowning feature of this park is the nearly 40 glaciers that flow from the Harding Icefield.