Highlights and main attractions of St Elias National Park

Inexplicably vast, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park tops the scales. At 13.2 million acres, this is the nation’s largest national park and when paired with Glacier Bay, as well as Canadian National Parks Kluane and Tatshenshin-Alsek, it becomes the largest piece of protected land on the face of the earth. Wild and remote, this little visited park has some of the most impressive collections of mountains and glaciers in the world.

The Wrangell, St. Elias and Chugach mountains ranges form the backbone of this massive area of wilderness. There are over 150 glaciers and 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States, 4 of which are over 16,000 feet including St. Elias - the second largest mountain peak after Mount McKinley. This challenging environment of cascading glaciers and braiding streams and rivers has some amazing, unlimited opportunities for exploration in a secluded and rugged mountain environment. Ever-changing and unpredictable, journeys through here are absolutely unforgettable and surprisingly easy to access. There are two roads crossing the park boundaries, Nabesha and McCarthy, both with extraordinary views as you enter the heart of the wilderness. 

Many people choose to fly in, for aerial views that are beyond comprehension.

Where is Wrangell St. Elias?

Location and Activities

The wildlife is everywhere here; grizzly bears swipe salmon from spawning rivers in the fall to fatten up for winter and mountain goats graze the wild landscapes. Moose are often seen near willow bogs and lakes, as well as caribou and two herds of transplanted bison. You can also find the largest population of Dall sheep in North America here. Keep a watchful eye open for smaller critters too, from snowshoe hares and beavers to arctic ground squirrels, foxes and porcupines. As well as being on the migratory route for numerous bird species, the wetlands provide nesting sites for trumpeter swans and nesting geese and ducks, and you can also find golden and bald eagles.

This is one of the best places to explore Alaska’s back country. Kayak through fast flowing rivers whilst grizzlies swipe their lunch from either side of you, try rafting or hike throughout the day, which sometime enjoys up to 20 hours of sunlight per day. Yet do not underestimate the forces of nature here, as once you leave the towns and roads, there are no established trails to follow, no facilities and limited search and rescue options, so we do not recommend you travel here individually. Due to the limited search and rescue options, you have to report your itinerary on arrival and stick to it; this is why we recommend staying at Ultima Thule Lodge. One hundred miles from the nearest road, it is run by a couple, Paul (one of the best pilots you will ever come across) and Donna. There are no set itineraries here and armed with a small plane, you set out each day to explore. On one day you may enjoy lunch atop an enormous glacier and on the next you will step off the plane to a spot that no one has been ever before.


The summers here are short and activities depend on the weather. Skiing is also an option in the cold months.

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