Wrangell-St. Elias – Alaska

Date of Visit: August 1-4, 2014

How we got there: Drove from Denali National Park via the unpaved Denali Highway and the Richardson Highway. About 5.5 hours from Carlo Creek Cabins to the main Visitor Center in Copper Center.

Lodging: Willow Lake B&B – Lakeside cabin a couple built next to their main house. Lancaster’s Backpacker Hotel, McCarthy

Favorites:

  • Kennecott Mill Tour – Explore the 14-story Kennecott Copper Mill with a guide. The building was abandoned suddenly in 1938, leaving equipment and artifacts in place.
  • Bonanza Mine Trail – One of the best hikes we’ve ever done and one of the most difficult. 9-mile out and back hike with 3,800 feet of elevation gain. Trail gets steeper with elevation and there can be snow on the trail at high elevations even in August. Hike ends at the ruins of the Bonanza Mine bunkhouse.
  • Dinner at McCarthy Lodge Bistro – Upscale dining in the middle of nowhere.
  • George I. Ashby Trail of ’98 Museum – If you have an interest in the Alaska gold rush of 1898, stop by this small museum filled with artifacts and photos to help bring the story to life.

Tips: This is the largest National Park in the system, covering an area larger than Switzerland, it’s seriously off the beaten path. Plan plenty of transportation time on the rough McCarthy road. We got a flat tire and had to go back to Chitina for a patch, but managed to make it to our mill tour on time.

Next time: Flightseeing tour over the inaccessible glaciers and mountains. Visit the accessible northern section of the park at Nabesna.

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