Photo Credit: Copper River Watershed

Best Things to Do in Copper Center

1. Copper Center Visitor Center

For a more challenging trek, adventure into the Nabesna Valley

For a more challenging trek, adventure into the Nabesna Valley

Get some insight into the massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park at its Visitor Center. Explore the bookstore and theater, then stop in next door at the Ahtna Cultural Center for some insight into the Alaska Natives from this area. Finish your visit by walking one of the short hiking trails, like the half-mile loop that includes an overlook of the stunning Wrangell Mountains. You can even opt for a guided walk led by a park ranger.

2. Museums

Thanks to Russians and miners, the Copper River Valley area has had a very rich history. Get a unique look at the 19th century here by visiting the George Ashby Memorial Museum, which is set in rustic log cabins. Explore the past through exhibits of early gold and copper mining, as well as a treasure trove of Russian artifacts. Then check out the Copper Center Museum, which features more mementos from miners and other cool finds from Alaska’s pioneer days.

3. Fishing & Rafting

This area plays host to some of the best fishing and rafting in the country, thanks to fast-running glacial-carved rivers, like the Klutina and Copper. Just book a trip and go! You can find fishing charters where you angle for famous (and delicious) Copper River salmon, as well as grayling and trout. And you can choose from rafting trips that range from mild to wild, with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife along the way!

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Enjoy a comfortable stay at the Copper River Princess Lodge

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See fish wheels in action at the Copper River Watershed. Photo by Wayne Renfrow.

4. Stay a Few Days

Exploring America’s largest national park could take a lifetime, so don’t shortchange your time here! Make the 85-room Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge your home base and you’ll enjoy amazing mountain and valley views of mountains, as well as outstanding food. Interested in camping instead? Check out our list of RV parks and campgrounds.

5. Copper River Watershed

The watershed lies at the heart of the Copper River region is an absolutely spectacular area that’s home to tons of salmon, fascinating history, and of course America’s largest national park. Hiking, rafting, fishing, driving, flightseeing: Whatever your passion, you can indulge it here. Use our guide to the area to plan the ultimate trip!

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Things to Do in Copper Center

Copper Center Day Tours View All

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $125+ 3 hrs to Multi-Day

Explor­ing the rivers of Cop­per Cen­ter, around 4 hours from Anchor­age and right on the edge of gor­geous Wrangell-St. Elias Nation­al Park, brings oppor­tu­ni­ties for every­thing from mild floats to Class III and IV rapids. Since the Cop­per Riv­er Basin is a lit­tle more remote than oth­er areas, you’ll be able to tru­ly appre­ci­ate the wilder­ness as you enjoy a relax­ing day on the water.

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $225+ 4 hrs to Multi-Day

Expe­ri­ence a full- or half-day sport-fish­ing trip the way it was meant to be: with a relax­ing vis­it to an uncrowd­ed fish­ing hole. Depend­ing on the sea­son, you can try for kings, sock­eye, trout, or Arc­tic grayling, as you angle with fish­ing guides who know the ins and outs of these cold, glacial drainages.

Difficulty: Easy

The muse­ums are housed in his­tor­i­cal cab­ins at the Cop­per Cen­ter Lodge. They con­tain ear­ly Russ­ian reli­gious arti­cles, Athabas­can bas­kets, tele­graph equip­ment, min­er­al dis­plays, cop­per and gold min­ing mem­o­ra­bil­ia and trap­ping arti­cles from the ear­ly-day Cop­per Val­ley. A short walk takes you to the Stam­ped­ers Cemetery.

Difficulty: Easy

A pleas­ant trail sys­tem mean­ders through the for­est around the cam­pus of the Wrangel-St. Elias Vis­i­tor Cen­ter near Cop­per Cen­ter, offer­ing an intro­duc­tion to the local ecosys­tem as well as extra­or­di­nary views of three vol­ca­noes and the Cop­per Riv­er Valley.

Housed in rus­tic log cab­ins, the muse­um offers the vis­i­tor a unique look at the var­ied past of the Cop­per Riv­er Val­ley area. Exhibits include ear­ly min­ing of gold and cop­per, and Russ­ian artifacts. 

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!

Get a taste of ear­ly 19th-cen­tu­ry Alas­ka in Cop­per Cen­ter. This small com­mu­ni­ty locat­ed at the con­flu­ence of the Kluti­na and Cop­per Rivers, was estab­lished in 1898 as a camp for prospect­ing gold min­ers. After the Richard­son High­way route opened in 1900, road­hous­es sprung up every 15 to 20 miles, pro­vid­ing ser­vices for trav­el­ers between Valdez and Fair­banks. You could get meals, lodg­ing, mail ser­vice, med­ical help, hay for your horse, gasoline…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Fol­low in the foot­steps of the orig­i­nal prospec­tors and native Alaskan inhab­i­tants by going for a hike or moun­tain bike ride along the Kluti­na Riv­er. This trail cov­ers the 23 miles between Cop­per Cen­ter and Kluti­na Lake, which was part of the orig­i­nal prospect­ing trail from Valdez to the Cop­per Riv­er. The riv­er is fed by the mas­sive glac­i­ers of the Chugach Moun­tains to the south, and the beau­ti­ful turquoise col­or of the water indi­cates the…  ...more

Just off the lob­by of the Cop­per Riv­er Princess Wilder­ness Lodge, the Whis­tle Stop serves up tasty pub fare and Alas­ka seafood; it also has a full bar, fea­tur­ing Alas­ka brewed beers on tap and 45 wines. Stop in for a rein­deer burg­er or fish and chips, or enjoy sun­set with a pint of Alaskan amber on the bustling deck over­look­ing the Wrangell St. Elias Range. The Whis­tle Stop is the only lunch option in the lodge and offers the same menu for…  ...more

Over­look­ing the peaks of Wrangell St Elias Nation­al Park, this restau­rant serves Alas­ka seafood din­ners and hearty break­fasts in a relaxed atmos­phere. It’s the nicest restau­rant with­in 100 miles, with a ded­i­ca­tion to fresh Alas­ka foods — includ­ing sea­son­al pro­duce and meat from local farms. Yet the din­ing room main­tains a casu­al ambi­ence, mak­ing it a great place to start or fin­ish your day. Fuel up for a day of sport fish­ing or hik­ing with the…  ...more

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Copper Center Parks & Trails View All

Difficulty: Easy

The muse­ums are housed in his­tor­i­cal cab­ins at the Cop­per Cen­ter Lodge. They con­tain ear­ly Russ­ian reli­gious arti­cles, Athabas­can bas­kets, tele­graph equip­ment, min­er­al dis­plays, cop­per and gold min­ing mem­o­ra­bil­ia and trap­ping arti­cles from the ear­ly-day Cop­per Val­ley. A short walk takes you to the Stam­ped­ers Cemetery.

Difficulty: Easy

A pleas­ant trail sys­tem mean­ders through the for­est around the cam­pus of the Wrangel-St. Elias Vis­i­tor Cen­ter near Cop­per Cen­ter, offer­ing an intro­duc­tion to the local ecosys­tem as well as extra­or­di­nary views of three vol­ca­noes and the Cop­per Riv­er Valley.

Difficulty: Easy

Fol­low in the foot­steps of the orig­i­nal prospec­tors and native Alaskan inhab­i­tants by going for a hike or moun­tain bike ride along the Kluti­na Riv­er. This trail cov­ers the 23 miles between Cop­per Cen­ter and Kluti­na Lake, which was part of the orig­i­nal prospect­ing trail from Valdez to the Cop­per Riv­er. The riv­er is fed by the mas­sive glac­i­ers of the Chugach Moun­tains to the south, and the beau­ti­ful turquoise col­or of the water indi­cates the…  ...more

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