Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Quick Facts

Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Alaska

(907) 822-5234

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Chugach, Wrangell, and St. Elias mountain ranges converge here in what is often referred to as the "mountain kingdom of North America." The largest unit of the National Park System and a day's drive east of Anchorage, this spectacular park includes the continent's largest assemblage of glaciers and the greatest collection of peaks above 16,000 feet. Mount St. Elias, at 18,008 feet, is the second highest peak in the United States. Adjacent to Canada's Kluane National Park, the site is characterized by remote mountains, sweeping valleys, wild rivers, and a variety of wildlife.

Map of Wrangell - St Elias

Latitude, Longitude: 61.205449, -142.252252

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Activities

  • Boating

    River travel within Wrangell-St. Elias is known for its scenic beauty and pristine campsites. Rivers here are wild and everchanging. Consider a float trip along many routes in the park.

    Sea kayaking in Ice Bay is also possible. Kayakers access Icy Bay by chartering a small bush plane to drop them off at Kageet Point on the eastern edge of Icy Bay or Pt. Riou, located on Chugach Alaska Native Corporation land southeast of Icy Bay. Before flying into Pt. Riou, visitors should request permission by writing Chugach Alaska Corporation, 560 E. 34th Avenue, Suite 200, Anchorage, Alaska 99503.

  • Bicycling

    Both the McCarthy and Nabesna Roads are appropriate for mountain bikes. Both offer spectacular scenery. Bikers should be prepared for wet, muddy, dusty, uneven, and very rocky conditions.

    Suggested routes along the McCarthy Road include the Kotsina Road and the Nugget Creek Trail. From McCarthy one can also ride to the ghost town of Kennecott and to the Nizina River.

    Dry creek beds along the Nabesna Road suitable for mountain biking include Lost Creek and Trail Creek. There are also a number of trails in the Glennallen, Copper Center-Chitina area that you might also enjoy.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    One of the best ways to experience the beauty and tremendous size of this park is from above! Fly past massive peaks, over jagged glaciers, and endless expanses of wild Alaska! For the truly adventurous, air taxis are used for backcountry dropoffs for wilderness campers and backpackers. A wide variety of tours, trips, and itineraries are available.

    Most operators fly out of Glennallen, McCarthy, or Chitina.

    ATV permits are REQUIRED for all RECREATIONAL users. ATV use is restricted to established ATV trails.

  • Camping

    If you and your group are going to camp in the Donoho Basin area of the park, your group is required to register with the park. Otherwise, backcountry camping allowed without a permit.

    There are 14 public-use cabins located within Wrangell-St. Elias. Most of these public use cabins are available to everyone on a first-come, first-served basis, and presently DO NOT require reservations and are not reserve-able.

  • Climbing

    The severe changes in elevation, avalanches, ice, remoteness and extreme winds and weather of this region require extensive knowledge of wilderness and mountaineering survival skills. Access if usually by chartered aircraft. Climbers must be fully prepared and self sufficient. Rescue and evacuation opportunities are slim and time consuming.

    The best time of year for climbing activity is April through June. The most popular peaks for expeditions are Sanford, Blackburn, Bona and St. Elias, because of their elevations over 16,000 feet. Many other peaks are equally challenging. Some have never been climbed. It is recommended that all climbers fill out a "Trip Itinerary" and leave it at park headquarters, or one of the ranger stations in Slana, Chitina or Yakutat.

    All climbing expeditions that enter Kluane National Park Reserve, Canada, must secure a permit in advance from the Superintendent.

  • Fishing

    Wrangell-St. Elias is home to a tremendous array of fish resources. With hundreds of miles of streams draining into two of Alaska's major river systems, the Park contains a diverse range of fish species as well as many abundant populations, including salmon populations that support large fisheries.

    The Copper River and most of its tributaries are migration routes for sockeye, coho, and king salmon. These fish transport large quantities of marine derived nutrients into otherwise nutrient poor systems. These marine derived nutrients support many of the aquatic ecosystems.

    Small lakes and clear water tributaries contain lake trout, Dolly Varden, burbot, grayling, cutthroat and rainbow trout, sculpin, suckers, and whitefish. Some of the northernmost populations of steelhead occur within the Park/Preserve.

    The National Park Service and the State of Alaska cooperatively manage the wildlife resources of the Park and Preserve. An Alaska State fishing license is required for all anglers age 16 or older. Bag and possession limits vary by species and by area.

  • Hiking

    Because there are very few maintained trails within the park, travel through dense brush, along steep scree slopes, and across fast and cold glacial streams and rivers should be expected. For most routes, map and compass reading skills are essential. Weather in these mountain ranges can vary to extremes in relatively short time periods. Summer snow storms may occur at elevations of 4,500 feet and above. It is best to expect (and prepare for) almost any possibility with a variety of layerable clothing (polypropylene, wool or pile), raingear, and extra food. Backcountry permits are not required, but travelers are encouraged to complete a "Backcountry Itinerary" available at any park office.

  • Horseback Riding

    Please contact the park for information about horseback riding in the park.

  • Hunting

    The National Park Service and the State of Alaska cooperatively manage the wildlife resources of the Park and Preserve. An Alaska State hunting license is required for all hunters age 16 or older. Bag and possession limits vary by species and by area. Always check current hunting regulations.

    Sport hunting is allowed within the national preserve only and must be conducted in accordance with Alaska State Law. Subsistence hunting by local rural residents is authorized in both the park and preserve.

  • Water Sports

    The rivers of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve offer visitors adventure and solitude. It is possible to travel for days at a time without seeing another person, trail, sign or bridge. Sea kayaking is available in Icy Bay.

  • Winter Sports

    In the winter, skiing the glaciers, cross-country skiing, mushing, and other winter sports are available.

Seasonality/Weather

The primary season for visiting Wrangell-St. Elias is early June through mid-September. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve has no entrance stations or gates, and never actually closes. However, Winter arrives early to interior Alaska and by September 15th, available services and facilities are few.

The park administration building in Copper Center is open weekdays year-round from 8:00am - 4:30pm.

Directions

Driving

Wrangell-St. Elias is located in southcentral Alaska, a day's drive from Anchorage. The park is accessible via the Richardson Highway (4), and the Tok Cutoff (1).

Park headquarters is located in Copper Center, 10 miles south of Glennallen, Alaska. The main park visitor center, theater, and exhibit buildings are found here. Head south from Glennallen to mile 106.8 of the Richardson Highway. There is also Ranger Stations in Slana, Chitina and Yakutat.

Flying

Access into the Park/Preserve is usually by private vehicle along unpaved gravel roads, via watercraft, or by chartered air taxi service from Tok, Glennallen (Gulkana), McCarthy, Valdez, Cordova or Yakutat. Yakutat and Cordova can also be reached by Alaska Airlines (800)-426-0333 which offers daily jet service from both Juneau and Anchorage.

Copper Valley Air has scheduled flights from Anchorage to Glennallen and McCarthy on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wrangell Mountain Air offers three daily trips (Mid-May to Mid-September) between Chitina and McCarthy with advance reservations.

There are numerous airstrips throughout the Park/Preserve. These can be reached via private airplane or by contacting one of the air taxi services licensed to operate in the Park/Preserve.

Public Transportation

Glennallen, the largest community near the park, is located at the junction of the Richardson and Glenn Highways. Alaska Direct Bus Line runs a bus from Anchorage to Tok, with multiple stops along the way, including in Glennallen. Seasonally, Backcountry Connection makes daily runs from Glennallen, Copper Center, Kenny Lake, Chitina to McCarthy/Kennecott. Group transportation is also available from Anchorage, Denali National Park, Fairbanks & Valdez.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(907) 822-5234

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