bigger than Switzerland, with much higher mountains

Flying in to Anchorage, Alaska from Juneau I was already worried.

How can anyone possibly hike Wrangell-St. Elias?

It looks the realm of mountaineers, not mere hikers like myself.


Because there are very few maintained trails within the park, travel through dense brush, along steep scree slopes, and across fast and cold glacial streams and rivers should be expected.

For most routes, map and compass reading skills are essential. Weather in these mountain ranges can vary to extremes in relatively short time periods. It is best to expect (and prepare for) almost any possibility with a variety of layerable clothing (polypropylene, wool or pile), raingear, and extra food. Summer snow storms may occur at elevations of 4,500 feet and above.

Trip Planning

A successful hiking trip requires adequate planning. You should be prepared for everything and should not count on aid or rescue from others. Here, you will be on your own. Caution and good judgment are key ingredients for a pleasant expedition. For many hikers, hiring the services of a local guide will make the trip safer and more enjoyable. In general, the areas above tree line (~3,000′) afford the easiest hiking and best views. These areas are often accessed by chartering a flight to one of the many possible “bush” landing strips. Note that there are many more places to land than are shown on maps. Air taxis will often land on gravel bars or on the tundra.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve – Hiking & Backpacking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

w-ste-map.jpgWrangell-St. Elias is the largest National Park in the USA. Indeed, if you combine it with the adjacent Parks and reserves it’s the largest protected land mass in the world.

But how does one hike it if you have only a small vehicle, not a helicopter or light plane? (Perhaps I can find some gold nuggets to pay for this trip.)

This will take some reconnaissance.

Wish us luck.

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