Chitina Things to Do
Access Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & McCarthy/Kennicott
America’s largest national park is a mammoth swath of rugged wilderness, filled with classic Alaskan tundra, remote peaks, and of course tons of wildlife. One way to get a perspective on this surreal area is to take a flightseeing tour with Wrangell Mountain Air. You can also use their air taxi service to go explore McCarthy/Kennicott, the former mining area turned ghost town inside the park. Flying from Chitina allows you to bypass the 60-mile McCarthy Road, a gravel road you need a special vehicle rental to drive
Drive the McCarthy Road
Some people say this drive is the highlight of their entire trip to Alaska. If you do have the type of rental vehicle allowed on this 60-mile gravel road, consider taking this two- to three-hour trip. It follows former railroad tracks through dramatic, pristine wilderness with the chance to see swans, moose, grizzly and black bears, owls, eagles, and other wildlife.
Hike and Camp at Liberty Falls
Just north of Chitina along the Edgerton Highway is the Liberty Falls State Recreation Site and Campground. If you’re camping, you’ll find 10 campsites here with picnic tables and tent platforms. There’s also a great view of a beautiful waterfall. Or just come for a hike; Liberty Falls trail climbs out of a spruce forest and follows a ridgeline, where you can look out onto great mountain views.
Marvel at the Fish Wheels
Check out the Alaskan Native fish wheels, a method of fishing that continuously reels in the fish! The current keeps the baskets turning while salmon swim into the net; they’re then deposited on the upriver side of the wheel. Salmon tend to come through in waves; if you’re lucky, you’ll see some!
Explore the Old Ghost Town
Chitina became an overnight boom town when the railroad arrived in 1910 to support the mining industry; it became a ghost town just as quickly when the mine closed in 1938. People painted ghosts on the buildings in the ensuing decades; try to spot them as you walk around!
Things to Do in Chitina
Chitina Day Tours & Attractions
If you want to get a true sense of the 13 million acres within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park — which has a mere 100 miles of roadways — start with an aerial view. Since 1992, Wrangell Mountain Air has been offering safe and fascinating tours of this remote kingdom, which boasts North America’s largest assemblage of glaciers as well as its largest collection of peaks above 16,000 feet. Choose from three main tours.
How do you fish in a river full of glacial silt? The easiest way is to use the iconic fish wheel — long associated with Alaska Native subsistence. See them in action in the Copper River near Chitina.
Chitina (pop. 105) came to life almost overnight with arrival of the Copper River & Northwestern Railway on September 11, 1910. The railway was built to haul ore from Kennicott Copper Mines at McCarthy to Cordova for shipment to Seattle. Chitina became a supply town for both the railway and the mine. When the mine closed in 1938, Chitina became a ghost town almost overnight. In the 1950s and 1970s, ghosts were painted on some of the old ...more
Eight signs will guide you through the Copper River watershed landscape. See if you can visit all eight signs on your tour through this upriver basin formed by the ancient, glacial Lake Atna!
There’s a story about a local pioneer who in the 1950’s walked the entire way to McCarthy from Cordova. Across the Copper River was a steel cable, the current bridge having not been built until 1973.
The rock cut you’re about to drive through was blasted out in the early 1900’s when the railroad to the copper mines of Kennicott was being built. The railroad began in Cordova and followed the Copper River to current day Chitina before turning through the rock cut and heading east towards the Wrangell Mountains. In the 1960’s the railroad handed over the land, and liability, to the newly established State of Alaska which promptly began… ...more
Chitina Parks & Trails
Want to feel like you’ve stumbled into an old Indiana Jones movie? A rugged cliff-top trail reaches south from Chitina along the Copper River into the gorge of Wood Canyon — offering access to three creeks, the ruins of an old trestle, a historic train tunnel and, finally, a sandy beach suitable for camping.
The rock cut you’re about to drive through was blasted out in 1909 as a railway to supply and support the Kennecott Copper Mines when they were being built. The railroad began in Cordova and followed the Copper River to current day Chitina before turning through the rock cut and heading east towards the Wrangell Mountains.