To enter Copper River Country means entering the heart of the renowned Copper River watershed, one of the world’s few remaining salmon strongholds and home to our largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. From the Richardson Highway, the Tok Cut-off, or the Edgerton Highway, you can see the mighty glacial river churning its way south as it carves a canyon through the Chugach Mountains before draining into the Gulf of Alaska. The expansive Copper River basin lies a few hours north of Anchorage, or you can enter by coming south on the Richardson Highway from Fairbanks or the Tok Cut-off from the Al-Can Highway.

Spend three to seven days exploring the rivers, trails, museums, state campgrounds, mud volcanoes, and the historic mining town of Kennicott as you travel by story through this expansive river system. Eight signs will guide you through the Copper River watershed landscape. See if you can visit all eight signs on your tour through this upper watershed basin formed by the ancient, glacial Lake Atna!

Creating Your Itinerary

Spend three to seven days exploring the rivers, trails, museums, state campgrounds, mud volcanoes, and the historic mining town of Kennicott as you travel by story through this sprawling river system. Eight signs will guide you through the Copper River watershed landscape. See if you can visit all eight signs on your tour through this upper watershed basin formed by the ancient, glacial Lake Atna!

Glenn Highway, Anchorage to Glennallen

2 days: Hiking, rafting, flightseeing

Allow 3.5 hours to reach Glennallen from Anchorage. From Glennallen, you can explore the Copper River basin by white water rafting, scenic drives to view the Wrangell Mountains, and flight seeing for a spectacular view of the Wrangell Mountains and their glaciers.

Show Map

Guide Points

Tok Cut-Off

1 Day: Follow the upper Copper River & explore trails off the Nabesna Road in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

For thou­sands of years, under a win­ter moon, the Aht­na, Cop­per River’s first peo­ple, have begun their sto­ry telling sea­son. Trained sto­ry­tellers share the Sacred Sto­ries, their Sto­ries of Cre­ation. Younger gen­er­a­tions lis­ten. Embed­ded in mem­o­ry, tra­di­tions are restitched and sacred covenants made clear. Teach­ing sto­ries fol­low through­out the year, passed on by respect­ed elders: aunts, uncles, and grand­par­ents. These ways of liv­ing in the land  ...more

Dri­ve down the 42-mile Nabesna Road for tremen­dous views to rival any road sys­tem in Alas­ka. The Wrangell, Men­tas­ta and Nut­zotin Moun­tains cre­ate a majes­tic panora­ma, char­ac­ter­ized by some of the high­est moun­tains in North Amer­i­ca. Nabesna Road is one of two that allows access to Alaska’s largest nation­al park, the Wrangell-St Elias Nation­al Park and Pre­serve. Ser­vices are lim­it­ed and road con­di­tions vary with the sea­sons, but there are plen­ty of  ...more

Camp­ground with 35 sites, pic­nic table, shel­ter, toi­lets, and 2.5 mile hik­ing trail over­look­ing the Tok Riv­er Valley.

Glenn Highway

2 Days: Hiking, rafting, and flightseeing

Stop here for a bath­room break and stretch your legs by the creek. Lit­tle creeks drain into big­ger creeks and cre­ate big­ger rivers. Learn how the waters in this small creek make their way to the Gulf of Alaska.

Camp­ground with 80 RV sites, 20 Tent Sites. Access to Tol­sona Mud Vol­ca­noes Trail. 

Difficulty: Easy

This is a pri­vate­ly main­tained trail. It is locat­ed 14 miles west of Glen­nallen at the Tol­sona Wilder­ness Camp­ground, at mile 173 on the Glenn High­way. Hik­ers who are not reg­is­tered campers are asked to pay a fee of $5 per vehicle. 

The town of Gle­nallen is named after two ear­ly explor­ers. Hen­ry Allen was a lieu­tenant who trav­elled through this area in 1885 on his way to the Yukon Riv­er, and Capt. Edwin Glenn was part of the U.S. Gov­ern­ment sur­vey crew for the Richard­son High­way that came through in 1898 – 99. Glen­nallen is also a part of the Cop­per Riv­er Water­shed. Find the inter­pre­tive sign at the vis­i­tor’s cen­ter and ori­ent your­self in the water­shed with a map of Ahtna  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This is a pri­vate­ly main­tained trail, locat­ed at Mile 187 on the Glenn High­way. In Glen­nallen, turn north on Co-op Dri­ve, trail­head and park­ing area are marked with a sign that says Aspen Inter­pre­tive Trail.” Trail is rat­ed easy,” allow about 1 hour for 1 mile round-trip. The begin­ning of this trail has been re-rout­ed. At the trail­head, look for signs to the right, indi­cat­ing the new route. The trail pass­es through three dis­tinct ecosystems  ...more

Richardson Highway

Trav­el­ing the Richard­son High­way south of Glen­nallen, you will pass Wil­low Lake with spec­tac­u­lar views of the lake and the Wrangell Moun­tain vol­ca­noes in the dis­tance. Read about how ancient Lake Atna once filled the area you’re dri­ving through and shaped the Cop­per Riv­er valley. 

His­toric Cop­per Cen­ter is one of the old­est non-native com­mu­ni­ties in Alaska’s Inte­ri­or. Found­ed as a gov­ern­ment agri­cul­tur­al exper­i­men­tal sta­tion, it lat­er served as a trans­porta­tion cen­ter for gold rush prospec­tors. Also find the inter­pre­tive sign where you’ll learn about the local fish species that make their home in dif­fer­ent habi­tat nich­es of Cop­per Riv­er water­shed creeks and rivers. 

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. 

Edgerton Highway & McCarthy Road

Ken­ny Lake (pop.500) Ken­ny lake was estab­lished in 1910 as an Alas­ka Road Com­mis­sion Road­house for the Valdez-Fair­banks-Chiti­na Mil­i­tary Road. Today it is a small farm­ing com­mu­ni­ty where res­i­dents lead a self-suf­fi­cient lifestyle har­vest­ing fish, game, berries and organ­ic produce.

You’re now look­ing at the Chiti­na Riv­er just before it merges with the Cop­per Riv­er and dis­ap­pears out of view. The braid­ed Chiti­na below actu­al­ly car­ries more water than the Cop­per Riv­er, despite los­ing the name bat­tle. (It’s actu­al­ly more of a name tie, though, as Chiti­na is the native word for cop­per.) Heavy rains, floods, and out­bursts from glacial­ly-dammed lakes can fill the riverbed, in com­par­i­son to the chan­nels you’re like­ly seeing…  ...more