Things To Do In McCarthy-Kennicott
McCarthy - Kennicott
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.
Taking to the rivers is such an excellent way to explore Wrangell St. Elias National park, and this operator out of McCarthy offers day trips that let you embrace the wonders of the park in a comfortable, hands-on, way. Both day trips are four hours. One allows you to paddle around a glacial lake, relax, and take in the scenery. The other takes it up a notch by floating downriver through class 2 and 3 rapids after a brief paddle around the lake. ...more
Experience the thrill of trying out a new sport: packrafting. Led by expert guides, you’ll leave from the town of Kennicott out to the Alaskan backcountry, then strap a raft to your back (it’s under 9 pounds) and set off on an interpretive walk down to a lake. Then unpack the raft and put in the water. You’ll learn how to use and maneuver these unique boats in Class I‑II water, and even have the possibility of taking on some Class III rapids. ...more
If you’ve never walked on a glacier, this is your chance. Going with experienced guides, you’ll leave from Kennicott, hike two miles, and spend the next several hours on the Root Glacier, safely exploring the blue ice, blue pool, canyons, and moulins of this extraordinary natural phenomenon. Choose a half- or full-day tour and learn all about natural and human history from your expert guides along the way. Or ramp up the excitement by going ice ...more
Explore the Alaskan wilderness while carrying your pack and camping out — it’s a way to truly get in touch with nature. Choose a 1‑night or 2‑night trek leaving from the town of Kennicott — your expedition will be led by expert guides, who will take you on hikes that can wind past gorgeous lakes and stunning waterfalls. Work with your guide to personalize your adventure — they know the must-see highlights of this area and can fill you in on the human ...more
Sprawling Wrangell-St. Elias National Park has huge mountains, North America’s largest concentration of glaciers, and thousands of rivers — but just two roads. That’s why taking to the local rivers is such an excellent way to explore the park: this operator out of McCarthy offers multi-day adventures that embrace the rugged wonders of the park, while keeping you comfortable enough so that you relax and enjoy it.
Year-round air service from Glennallen, Alaska. Short on time? Check Alaska’s largest national park off your list with a flightseeing tour that includes a landing in the wilderness of the park. Traveling to McCarthy / Kennicott? Travel like the locals and hop on a mail plane flight. See how backcountry mail is delivered and enjoy speedy transportation to McCarthy. Or, opt for their scheduled air service. Both have departures from Anchorage and ...more
St. Elias Alpine Guides have a long history of sharing the wilderness with travelers — whether the activity involves hiking a glacier, backpacking, rafting, skiing, or even doing some extreme mountaineering — there’s something for everyone! You can also take advantage of the option to customize your trip.
The NPS provides a wide range of free public tours that typically last 30 – 60 minutes and don’t require too much walking. These include walks down Main Street, where you’ll learn about each building and hear what life was like during the town’s heyday. You also might find yourself with a naturalist, who will take you a little ways outside of town to identify local native plants, trees, and flowers. Call the NPS for a current schedule of free… ...more
Parks & Trails
Looking for a mellow 3- to 4‑hour walk and a nice spot to relax with a book or a journal? Check out McCarthy Creek. To get here, just walk straight through McCarthy’s Main Street, past Ma Johnson’s Hotel (on the left), down the hill, and past the Wrangell Mountain Center.
This route begins at the Park Service and Information Station. Follow the flags, and they will lead you to an unmaintained footpath. This trail requires a lot of bushwacking and the footholds are not strong, especially after the first four miles.
Getting out to the Kennicott Glacier is the first challenge. You need to hike onto the Root Glacier, cross over the monster rock moraine to your left, cross another tongue of ice on the Root Glacier, then cross yet another monster rock moraine between the Root and the Kennicott glaciers. It’s tricky terrain and not to be taken lightly. When facing down the second moraine, you’ll want to hit the low point that’s close to where the black mud… ...more
Copper brought people to Kennicott/McCarthy, and gold kept them coming, usually via Dan Creek Road. The Cordova Chamber of Commerce built this road back in 1914 to promote access into the gold-rich interior of Alaska. Today you can use this road to get to the old airstrip, a miner’s cabin at the top of the bluff above McCarthy Creek (a 25-minute walk from McCarthy), and the Nizina River, some 9 miles away. Watch for the bridge over McCarthy… ...more
Camp right at the toe of the Root Glacier, in a National Park Service camping area. This is a great way to experience the glacier without the traffic of hikers and tourists that pass through during the day. The area has a few camping spots carved out of the hillside, as well as bear boxes (and there’s another just past Jumbo Creek). Jumbo Creek is the boundary for camping – with no permission to camp before you cross it. Be wary of bears: In… ...more
The main street in Kennicott turns into a well-maintained, 4‑mile-long hiking trail just outside of town. This trail winds alongside the Kennicott and Root Glaciers, and hiking it is a great opportunity to experience the grandeur of the Wrangell Mountains and see more of the valley. It’s a great starting point, whether you have only a few hours or are planning a multi-day glacier and mountain adventure. You will be rewarded throughout the… ...more
To get a little further away from civilization, you can also camp at the end of the Root Glacier trail, about 4 miles from Kennecott. This is hardly a traditional campground; there are a few creative spots to pitch a tent, one of which is on the trail itself. There’s also a bearproof food storage box, since this is definitely bear country. But few people and amazing views make the hike out here worth it. You’ll know you’re at the end of the… ...more
This historical trail through the woods between McCarthy and Kennicott was the walking/wagon road when the railroad was still running. It’s a nice alternative to walking or biking up the 4.5‑mile-long road between McCarthy and Kennicott, where you’ll find more vehicles and dusty conditions.
If you’ve spent the day in Kennicott, on the glacier trail, or in the mountains and still can’t get enough of the outdoors, skip the shuttle ride down the hill to McCarthy and take this nice 1.5‑hour walk. The Wagon Trail cuts off the main road just to the right of the St. Elias Guides office.