Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Southcentral Alaska

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, in the Copper River Valley of Southcentral Alaska, stretches from one of the tallest peaks in North America, Mount St. Elias, to the ocean on the Gulf of Alaska. Within the park’s borders are nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the country, including Mount St. Elias at 18,008 feet, Mount Bona at 16,421 feet, Mount Blackburn at 16,390 feet, and Mount Sanford at 16,237 feet. Due to its sheer size, high peaks and massive glaciers, access to the park and facilities in the park are relatively limited. Visitors can access the park by road from three locations – the Copper Center Visitor Center on the west side of the park, Nabesna Road on the north side of the park, and the McCarthy Road/Kennecott Mine in the center of the park. 

One of the most popular areas in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. From 1911 to 1938, the Kennecott Minerals Company had mines located here where nearly 300 people extracted copper ore from the mountains, and a mill town where nearly $200 million of copper ore was processed. The site also included a hospital, general store, school, skating rink, tennis court, recreation hall, and dairy. To access the landmark, visitors must drive to the town of McCarthy on a 60 mile, mostly dirt road, or charter a flight from Chitina to McCarthy, since most rental car companies don’t allow rentals on this road. From McCarthy, visitors can catch a shuttle van for the five mile ride out to Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. Just beyond Kennecott Mine is access to several hiking trails, including the Root Glacier Trail, which leads directly to the surface of the Root Glacier, and the Jumbo Mine and Bonanza Mine Trails which climb steeply to fascinating mine ruins perched high in the mountains.


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