Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias is America’s largest national park, and linked along side of neighboring parks and protected lands in Canada, it is one of the largest areas of protected land in the world. It is a national treasure, a historic landmark and a place that you can go and truly experience the wilderness. It’s 13.2 million acres are scarcely traveled and hiking through them you often ask yourself, “am I the first one to set foot here?”
Selected statistics (taken from Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve website):
* Largest national park in the United States.
* Designated, with Glacier Bay National Park and the Canadian neighbors Kluane National Park Reserve, Tatshenshini-Alsek National Park, a World Heritage Site; making the world’s largest international protected wilderness.
* Four major mountain ranges: Wrangell, St. Elias, Chugach and the eastern part of the Alaskan Range.
* Mt. St. Elias, at 18,008 feet, is the second highest peak in the United States.
* Nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States.
* Mt. Wrangell, at 14,163 feet, is one of the largest active volcanoes in North America.
* Nabesna Glacier, at approximately 80 miles, is the longest non-polar valley glacier.
* Malaspina Glacier, larger than the state of Rhode Island, is the largest non-polar piedmont glacier in North America.
* The Hubbard Glacier is one of the largest and most active tidewater glaciers in North America.
Kennicott /McCarthy Area
Welcome to the end of the road!
Kennicott and McCarthy are situated in the center of the 13.2 million acre National Park and are the towns that make-up the unique community that lies beyond the pavement. McCarthy is just over the footbridge at the end of the 60 mile dirt road, while Kennicott sits another 4.5 miles up from there.
Between the years of 1911 and 1938 nearly $200 million worth of copper was mined from the surrounding area and processed in Kennicott. It was a bustling town of 300 people with another 200-300 more men in the mines themselves. Kennicott became a National Historic Landmark in 1986 and is currently being restored by the National Park Service.
Kennicott was a ghost town from around 1938 until the early 1990’s, with few local private residences living there, and a lodge operating beginning in the 80’s. Kennicott started to see a reseurgence in the middle 1990’s with increased tourism to the area, as well as with the National Park Service’s renovation on some of the old buildings. Now there are many tourists that visit each year, and the town buzzes with activity.
The NPS has a visitor center in Kennicott, Kennicott Glacier Lodge provides first class lodging and food, there is a gift shop, pizza bus and of course the Kennicott Wilderness Guides’ office.
McCarthy was once the bustling town that serviced the Kennicott Copper Operation and other area miners/prospectors.
After all these years, McCarthy is still a town servicing the area with lodging, food, travel support, education, and a good time. This is all thanks to McCarthy Lodge (bar, restaurant, Ma Johnson’s Hotel), McCarthy Mercentile, McCarthy Air, Wild Alpine Gear shop, McCarthy River Tours and Outfitters, and Wrangell Mountain air, the Wrangell Mountains Center, McCarthy Creek, and the museum. This is all thanks, of course, to the coffee and food from the Roadside Potatohead.