Even though it’s just a five-hour drive to Chitina from Anchorage, not that many people visit our nation’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias.
You can drive on the McCarthy Road to McCarthy, or fly the last 60 miles with Wrangell Mountain Air, which provides scheduled service each day. It’s a great flight through mountain passes and over the giant Root Glacier into McCarthy.
In addition to the wild rivers and awesome glaciers, the park is home to the historic Kennicott mining district. Stay in the middle of the old town of Kennicott at the Kennicott Glacier Lodge (pictured, top). It’s located about five miles up the hill from McCarthy and the McCarthy airport. If you drive back, you can park on the other side of the river, walk across the bridge and the lodge will pick you up in the van for the ride up the hill. No outside cars allowed—it’s a McCarthy thing.
You can’t miss the view from the lodge—just stare from the deck all the way across the glacial valley. Look up the valley to the giant ice wall coming off of the Wrangell Mountains. Get settled into your room and then take a seat for dinner—family-style.
After dinner you can go for a walk past the old mill building, or listen to one of the outfitters give a presentation on trips available the following day:
a. Flightseeing with Wrangell Mountain Air. Once you’re up in the air from the McCarthy Airport, you’re over the glacier in less than five minutes. It is an awesome feeling to be flying up the valley and to see the giant ice fall up close. Or a rock glacier (pictured, right). Your pilot follows a flight path to give you unparalleled views of the majestic glaciers and mountains in the park.
b. Raft and Flightsee with St. Elias Alpine Guides. Raft three rivers in one day! Put in at the Kennicott River, just downstream from the toe of the glacier. Your trip includes some Class II and III before spilling out into the Nizina Canyon. But WAIT. There’s MORE! Wrangell Mountain Air lands on a gravel bar and picks you up for a flight back to town! Enjoy stunning views of Root Glacier from the air!
c. Kennicott Mill Town Tour with St. Elias Alpine Guides. This is a great all-around tour of some of the mine buildings, complete with the history of the mine, the miners and the company.
d. Half-day glacier hike with St. Elias Alpine Guides. The Root Glacier is just right up the trail from the lodge. St. Elias Alpine Guides will show you many extraordinary features of the glacier, including crevasses, blue pools (mulans) and waterfalls. Crampons provided!
SPECIAL: Kennicott Glacier Lodge is offering a special $99 rate between May 23 and June 12 for “forest view” rooms. Call now and make your reservations: (907)258-2350.
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