How to Meet Locals in McCarthy

This town is likely one of the smallest you’ll visit and is truly off-the-beaten path from the summer crowds. Home to only about 100 residents, you’re sure to meet locals milling around the one-block, dirt-paved Main Street. Life in McCarthy is centered on community and eco-friendly living practices; many residents tend their own gardens and are committed to keeping their town clean. And, because there aren’t any public dumping grounds, people go the extra mile to haul out, burn, or compost their garbage. Life here is simple, yet significant.


  • Check out the Wrangell Mountain Center to observe local models of sustainable living practices and learn from those living on-site. You can see the organic produce gardens and talk with resident staff about Alaska’s permaculture. Local artists from around the state gather here to unplug in the rural environment while building their individual craft. Families are invited to the music camp in mid-July to hone their musical talents and learn from local musicians. It won’t take long for you to discover that residents delight in sharing their unique skills and passions to those passing through.
  • Kennicott Glacier Lodge is a perfect spot to stop in for an evening presentation, and guide companies present slideshows here most nights. Natalie from Wrangell Mt. Air gives a slideshow telling people what it’s like to live in McCarthy in winter. Even if you can’t experience it, you’ll still want to hear about it.

Restaurants & Bars

  • Roadside Potatohead is the local favorite—the perfect pit stop before your hike or adventure in Wrangell/St. Elias National Park. There’s amazing coffee and a giant variety of menu options, including breakfast burritos and burgers as well as Greek and Tex-Mex items. The quirky décor boasts a collection of embellished Mr. Potatoheads contributed by locals. Cash only.
  • The Golden Saloon is the beating heart of the town. Frequented by locals, this pub offers live music on the weekends and an open mic on Thursdays. It’s a great place for a real taste of nightlife in small town Alaska—the bar is a throwback to a movie set from the Gold Rush era. After a long day of hiking, this is the place you want to be. Friends gather together for a little nonsense and good food and drink.


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