Top Attractions in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is an over-achiever. It is the largest national park in the United States at 13.2 million acres and dubbed the Mountain Kingdom of North America. Beautiful is an understatement with its deep river valleys and snow-flecked peaks. Climbers will love the variety—it is home to 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the U.S. and Mt. Wrangell, one of the biggest active volcanoes in North America.
Mountains are just the beginning when it comes to Wrangell, Alaska’s long list of natural wonders. Trace one of its curving rivers and you will wind up at a glacier. Wrangell-St. Elias encompasses both the longest interior valley glacier in the world, the Nabesna Glacier and Hubbard Glacier, one of the largest and most active tidewater glaciers in North America.
How to Visit Wrangell-St. Elias
Wrangell-St. Elias is accessible by the Glenn highway from Anchorage, Alaska and more than four hours driving distance. There are two roads into the park, the Nabesna Road and McCarthy Road. Both are gravel roads and not maintained regularly during winter. The public park is open year-round, but by the end of September facilities are limited.
Wildlife in Wrangell National Park
Scores of Alaska wildlife call this vast park home. Look for timber wolves, grizzly and black bears, caribou, mountain goats and moose. Beaver, lynx and fox are some other exciting animals you may see on a trip through Wrangell St. Elias. Harbor seals, otters and Steller sea lions hang out in the park’s coastal areas. Bring your binoculars as hundreds of species of birds occupy these lands.
Other Sites in Wrangell, Alaska
There are also ruins of old mines, traditional Tlingit fishing villages and plenty of hiking, rafting, and flightseeing opportunities. It is a popular spot with experienced mountaineers because they will have their pick of challenging peaks. There are summits more than 16,000 feet.
More than 35% of the land in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is covered in glaciers. One of the most popular is Hubbard Glacier, which can be viewed on Alaska cruises. This bright-blue beauty is known for frequent and dramatic calving. Hubbard Glacier cascades to the sea off the shoulder of Mt. Walsh. It is an impressive 76 miles long and 7 miles wide. Unlike most Alaska glaciers, Hubbard Glacier is advancing rapidly, earning it the nickname, "Galloping Glacier".
Wrangell Volcanic Field
Spanning more than 2,000 square miles, the Wrangell Volcanic Field is made up of thousands of lava flows. It encompasses Mount Wrangell, one of the largest active volcanoes on earth and the only active one in the Wrangell Mountains. Sometimes this majestic mountain releases a plume of smoke, but don’t worry, geologists say that Wrangell isn’t set to erupt any time soon.