4 Tips for a Trip To Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

A couple enjoys the vista of the Wrangell Mountains while on a cruise to Alaska.
A couple enjoys the vista of the Wrangell Mountains while on a cruise to Alaska.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park's beauty springs from its isolation and rich ecosystem. At 13.2 million acres, the park is the largest in the United States — barely smaller than the state of West Virginia. The Copper River, home of the world-famous Copper River red salmon, snakes through the national park. On your next Alaska land and sea vacation, take time to explore this sprawling locale. These tips will get you started:

1. Get the Best View

When you take a land and sea vacation to Alaska and make your way to Wrangell-St. Elias, you'll start your visit at the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge. There, you'll find vistas of the Wrangell-St. Elias Range, which provides the backdrop to a view of the confluence of the Copper and Klutina Rivers. You'll even catch a glimpse of the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

2. Stretch Your Legs

Step out of your room at the lodge and onto the 23-mile Klutina Lake Trail, which follows the Klutina River from Copper Center to Klutina Lake. The trail, which is the path prospectors and native Alaskans took to access remote claims, follows a bluff that offers world-class river views. For the first few miles, it splits off to provide access to the river proper; after that, the trail meanders away from the river and into the forest, providing the perfect setting for solitude and quiet reflection.

3. Take Flight

A bird's-eye view of Wrangell-St. Elias will give you an idea of its dizzying size and magnitude. Pass over glacier fields, meandering rivers, and thousands of acres of black spruce forests on a flight over the park.

4. Step Back in Time

Nestled in the park are the old mining community of Kennicott and the frontier town of McCarthy. These relics of Alaska's history and mining life are stark contrasts to the spiny mountains that once granted gold to prospectors. Take a tour of these towns lost in time and get a firsthand perspective on what mining life was like one hundred years ago.

Do you dream of experiencing the wilds of Alaska? Take a trip to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park on an Alaska cruisetour, and let the last frontier make you feel new.