Wrangell St. Elias

The Chugach, Wrangell, and St. Elias mountain ranges converge here in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, which includes 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. This is the largest National Park in the US and is the size of six Yellowstones. The high country is covered with snow year round resulting in extensive ice fields and glacier ice caves. The Bagley Ice Field is the largest sub polar ice field in North America. Wrangell-St. Elias and the adjoining Kluane National Park in Canada form a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You may notice two spellings of Kennicott. Kennicott, with an “i” is the spelling of the glacier, river and valley, named after naturalist Robert Kennicott. However, when the town and mine were named, a clerical error was made, and they were forever spelled Kennecott, with an “e”.

Wrangell-St. Elias can be reached via two roads:

The Edgerton Highway from mile 82.5 of the Richardson Highway is 33 miles long and ends at Chitna. From Chitna to Kennecott & McCarthy it is 60 miles on a rough gravel road. Accommodation in the park include RV parks, and wilderness lodges, such as Kennicott Glacier Lodge.

The Nebesna road is at mile 60 of the Tok Cut-off and travels 43 miles to Nabesna, providing access to the northern portion of the park. This northern part of Wrangell-St. Elias is less visited but no less beautiful. Only 28 miles from the Tok Cut-off is Wrangell Mountains Wilderness Lodge & Cabins.

Wrangell-St. Elias Visitor Complex is at mile 106 of the Richardson Highway. It includes a bookstore, exhibit hall, theatre, scenic overlook and hiking trails. Open mid-May to mid-Sept. (907) 205-7106

Kennecott Visitor Center in Kennecott, 5 miles north of McCarthy. Backcountry trip planning info and the best place to learn about the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day. 907-554-1105

Wrangell-St. Elias FAQs

How did Wrangell-St. Elias get its name?

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska got its name from the two major mountain ranges it encompasses, namely the Wrangell Mountains and the St. Elias Mountains.

The Wrangell Mountains were named after Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel, a Russian explorer and naval officer who served in the Russian-American Company. And the St. Elias Mountains were named after Saint Elias, also known as Saint Elijah, a prominent figure in Christian and Jewish traditions. The name “St. Elias” was chosen by the Italian explorer Alessandro Malaspina during his expedition in the late 18th century.

The combined name “Wrangell-St. Elias” reflects the diverse heritage and history of the region, with Russian and European influences, indigenous cultures, and the natural wonders of the area.

Can you see the northern lights in Wrangell-st Elias?

Yes, you can see the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, particularly during the winter months. The park’s remote location in Alaska, with limited light pollution, makes it an excellent place for viewing the Northern Lights.

The best time to see the Northern Lights in this region is typically from late August to mid-April, with the peak months being December to March.

How many people visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park?

As of 2022, there were 65,236 people who visited Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Source: https://www.nps.gov/wrst/learn/management/statistics.htm

What animals are in Wrangell-St. Elias?

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska is home to a diverse and abundant array of wildlife due to its vast, remote, and largely undeveloped wilderness. Some of the notable animals found in this national park and preserve include:

  • Grizzly Bears
  • Black Bears
  • Moose
  • Dall Sheep
  • Caribou
  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Red Foxes
  • Arctic Ground Squirrels
  • Bald Eagles
  • River Otters
  • Pikas
  • Migratory Birds
  • Arctic Hares

Is Wrangell-St Elias the biggest National Park?

Yes, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is the largest national park in the United States. It is also one of the largest national parks in the world in terms of land area.

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