The Largest Park!

Leaving Anchorage, we had two National Parks left to see. To complete our northern adventure, we needed to see Wrangell-St Elias and Glacier Bay.  Even though you can drive to Wrangell you can see only a small portion of this park which is the size of six Yellowstone’s. We did what we could without taking a flight. We were saving the flight for our last Alaskan National Park, number eight, Glacier Bay.

Kennecott Glacier

From our campsite, we spent a long day driving 30 miles just to get to a gravel road then we drove another 60 miles on dirt along the Copper river into the Park. Remember I said we didn’t see much of the park? We drove 60 miles into the park and barely saw it. That’s how big it is.  Wrangell-St Elias and her sister park Kluane National Park of Canada make up the largest National Park of them all.  Nine of the sixteen tallest peaks in North America are in these parks.  This is the highest coastal mountain range in the world.  St Elias, the second highest pike in the U.S. was first scaled by Dora Keen in 1912.  She was also the first mountain climber to introduce the concept of establishing a base camp and then making a summit attempt.  She was quiet the explorer.  Kluane has Mount Logan, the second highest mountain in North America.  Mt. Logan has the largest circumference and highest vertical rise of any mountain in the world.  These two parks plus adjoining Glacier Bay make up the largest wilderness area in North America. They are also designated a “World Heritage Site.”

After the ninety-mile one-way road trip we had to walk a mile into the small town of McCarthy.  There Lillian boarded a shuttle for a five-mile ride to the abandoned copper mine of Kennecott while I guarded Sam and explored the small town of McCarthy.  Kennecott Mine operated from 1911 to 1935.  Then the price of copper hit the floor and the mine closed.  The miners had just two days to leave.  So, they did, leaving most of their stuff behind.  Now their garbage is a historical landmark.  Lillian returned on the shuttle van from Kennecott with beautiful pictures of the copper mine.  McCarthy is home to more dogs than people and most are better behaved.  Under the watchful eye of six canine citizens, I sat at a small café and ate a hamburger. A cool place at the end of the road. 

Hills of debris from the mine

Copper River
Copper River

The 90 miles back to our campsite seemed to go faster than the drive in. Now we’d seen seven of Alaska’s eight National Parks.

We hope this update finds you well and enjoying the last few days of summer. 

Next up Glacier Bay.


  1. I’ll admit we drove by, but decided to leave those National Park for our next visit. We are running short on time. We are in Skagway now and will go to Hyder then on to Vancouver. Be careful.


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