Wrangell St Elias National Park, located in southern Alaska, is the largest national park in the United States. The Wrangell St Elias Park is accessible from several areas and through a variety of methods, depending on your choice of activities and location of access. Throughout the park, there are ranger stations that offer helpful advice and a number of goods and services for visitors’ conveniences, and from Mount St Elias to the forests of spruce to the icy glaciers, this national park provides a wide range of landscapes. Because there are no specified or maintained trails in Wrangell St Elias Park, much of the outdoor activities are suited to more adventurous travelers, and guests are advised to make themselves familiar with all safety guidelines to ensure a safe and exciting experience with the nature of Alaska.
Although the park area had been inhabited for thousands of years, Wrangell St Elias Park began in its current incarnation as a trading post, which was originally established by the Russians who migrated across the Bering Straight into Alaska. Years later, gold was discovered along with a selection of other minerals and ores, including copper and silver; of the mines and mills in the area, Kennecott was the most renowned. The railroad lines hauling loads from mine to mill led the way to the foundation of the current roads that are used by visitors today to get into the park, including the Chitina-McCarthy Road on the northern end of the park and Nabesna Road in the South.
After the mining came to an end, so too did the general interest in the area, and despite several attempts to attract visitors and settlers, interest remained at a minimum until it was proposed that the expanse be inaugurated as a monument. It then became the largest US national park, and much of it is designated as a protected wilderness area. More than 60,000 people visit each year, and Wrangell St Elias is growing in popularity because of its combination of a remote location and relatively easy accessibility.
Because the Wrangell St Elias National Park is so large, it boasts a great variety of landscapes, which helps create a haven for wildlife and an ideal setting for an array of outdoor activities, including mountain biking, river rafting and canoeing, fishing, and hunting. Wrangell National Park encompasses mountain ranges and volcanic peaks, including Mount St Elias, craggy and rocky coastal regions, glaciers, marshes, forests, canyons, tundra, and a variety of other characteristics that make this place an enormously bold exploration.
While trekking through and discovering the marvels of Wrangell St Elias National Park, visitors may encounter a menagerie of wild animals, including moose, caribou, Dall sheep, bison, wolves, bears, and a myriad of other animals large and small. Ranger stations, located throughout Wrangell St Elias Park, can help visitors find information and useful supplies for any extended trip into the park. These are a great starting point for your adventures.
Whether you’re coming to see the peak of Mount St Elias or the marshland below, visitors to Wrangell St Elias will find endless opportunities to appreciate nature in its raw form. The Chugach National Forest is also nearby, and the cities of Seward and Anchorage will likely provide the easiest access into Wrangell, meaning it’s possible to spend a few days in town before heading into the wild.