Photo (top): Kennicott Glacier Lodge’s GM Christina Kirkwood pauses for a photo with the glacier and mountains in the background. Photo (above): Massive glaciers make for an awesome landscape on the flight from Chitina to McCarthy with Wrangell Mountain Air.
Have you been to Kennicott? It’s deep in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. From Anchorage, it’s a five-hour drive to Chitina Airport. From there, catch a ride with Wrangell Mountain Air over 4th of July Pass and the Kennicott Glacier to McCarthy. Special packages are available which include airfare from either Chitina or Anchorage.
Or, go ahead and drive the road back to the footbridge in McCarthy. This is a gravel road for the last 60 miles—recommended speed limit is 35 mph. There are people who drive faster. You can see them pulled over, changing their flat tire. HA
McCarthy is the start of the Kennicott Mining District, once the largest copper mine in the world. Five miles up the hill is the “ghost town” of Kennicott. The old structures and mine buildings are being stabilized by the National Park Service. Take a tour with St. Elias Alpine Guides of the Mill Building, the leeching plant and the power house. Our guide, Winsey, did a great job explaining the process for chopping up the rocks after they came in from the mine.
Don’t miss your chance to get out on the glacier. St. Elias Alpine Guides offers half-day and full-day glacier walks. Just let them know if you want to do some ice climbing. We did it—it’s fun!
If you drove back to McCarthy, ask the folks at Wrangell Mountain Air to take you flightseeing around the incredible mountains and glaciers in the park. Choose from 30-120 minutes. It’s spectacular!
Special COVID-19 procedures are in place at the Lodge. They include a pre-arrival interview (for symptoms), decreased capacity in the restaurant and extra cleaning/sanitizing. Details HERE.
Chances are good you’ll be out exploring during the day—just ask your server and they will fix you a sack lunch to go!
The historic Kennicott Mill and its environs are just one sliver of the 13.2 million acre park, the nation’s largest. But it’s a good place to start your adventure. Take in some ice walks, some flightseeing—maybe even some raft trips.
It’s a glorious area—make this your year to visit Kennicott!
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