About Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve was established on December 2, 1980, under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), to maintain the natural scenic beauty of the diverse geologic, glacial, and riparian dominated landscapes; to protect the attendant wildlife populations and their habitats; to ensure continued access for a wide range of wilderness-based recreational opportunities; and to provide continued opportunities for subsistence use.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve encompasses 13.2 million acres of superlative scenery, abundant wildlife, and fascinating human history. It is the largest unit in the national park system. In conjunction with Kluane National Park in Canada, adjacent to the park/ preserve, the two areas encompass the largest parkland in North America. The park/preserve is less than 200 miles east of Anchorage and bordered by two of Alaska’s major highways. Visitors may discover lofty snowcapped peaks, extensive glacial systems, active volcanos, large herds of Dall sheep and other wildlife, native history, and relics from many old mining operations.
Today, there is something for everyone in Wrangell-St. Elias. Local, rural residents engage in traditional subsistence hunting and fishing. Mountaineers come for backcountry where they find some of the tallest peaks and most challenging conditions in North America. Scientists come to monitor species of concern, such as Kittlitz’s murrelets or Chisana caribou. Sport hunters come to find the finest Dall sheep habitat in the world. Sightseers come to see the spectacular scenery, or to take a flight over the majestic mountains. History buffs come to experience the Kennecott Mill Town or to follow in the footsteps of early stampeders. There are places to take your tent and enjoy a few days away from it all. You can view the Hubbard Glacier on the coastline near Yakutat. Bird watching, hiking, and photography are also popular visitor activities.
Far from the hustle and bustle of other Alaskan destinations, the magnificent scenery and untamed nature of this park allow you to experience genuine “Wild Alaska” on its own terms. Your possibilities here are endless. Whether immersing yourself in the colorful history of Kennecott, floating a raging river, crossing a glacier, driving one of the park’s primitive roads, overwhelming your senses on a scenic flight, or charting your own backcountry trek, the park is ready for those willing and prepared to enter it. Access and services here may seem very limited when compared to traditional National Parks you may have visited in the lower 48. What the area may lack in services, it more than makes up for in friendly people and uncrowded wilderness.
There are two roads that lead into the park: the Nabesna Road and the McCarthy Road. Both roads are dirt roads that are maintained by the State of Alaska. The WrangellSt. Elias Visitor Center is the main park visitor center. It is located along the Richardson Highway (Hwy 4), which is a paved road that runs through Copper Center, AK. This visitor center is located 10 miles south of Glennallen, Alaska, and approximately 200 miles east of Anchorage, AK and 250 miles south of Fairbanks, AK.
Source: Foundation Document Overview – Wrangell–St. Elias National Park
|Date the Park was Established:||December 2, 1980|
|Park Area (as of 2019):||8,323,146.48 acres (33,682.6 km2)|
|Recreational Visitors (2018 Total):||79,450 visitors|