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Camping at Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

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Introduction to Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve is a vast national park located in eastern Alaska, which encompasses an area of over 13 million acres, making it the largest national park in the United States. It is known for its dramatic landscapes, which include towering mountains, powerful glaciers, and a wide array of wildlife. It's a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Glacier Bay National Park, Kluane National Park, and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.

Planning Your Visit

When to Go: The best time for camping in Wrangell - St Elias is typically from June to September, when the weather is milder. However, visitors should be prepared for unpredictable weather and bring appropriate gear for rain and colder temperatures.

Getting There: The park is remote, and access can be challenging. The two main access points are via the Edgerton Highway to Chitina and the McCarthy Road, which leads to the heart of the park. Small planes also provide access to various areas within the park.

Camping Options

Developed Campgrounds:

  • Wrangell - St Elias offers a limited number of developed campgrounds such as Kendesnii Campground near Nabesna in the northern part of the park.

Backcountry Camping:

  • The park is predominantly wilderness, and backcountry camping is a common way to experience it. Campers must practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the park's pristine nature.

Permits and Fees:

  • There are no entrance fees for Wrangell - St Elias, but some campgrounds might have minimal fees.
  • Backcountry campers are advised to check in with the park visitor center to obtain necessary permits and current information on conditions.

Safety and Regulations

Wildlife:

  • Visitors may encounter wildlife such as bears, moose, and caribou. Proper food storage and understanding how to safely observe wildlife are crucial.

Leave No Trace:

  • Pack out all trash, use bear-proof containers, and avoid disturbing flora and fauna.

Water Safety:

  • Always treat water from streams or rivers before drinking to avoid water-borne illnesses.

Weather and Terrain:

  • The park's weather can be extreme; proper gear is essential.
  • Terrain may be unforgiving, and hikers need to be experienced in route finding.

Activities and Points of Interest

Hiking and Backpacking:

  • There are many hiking and backpacking opportunities ranging from short day hikes to extensive multi-day treks.

Glacier Exploration:

  • Glaciers are a central feature of the park's landscape. Guided tours on glaciers can be arranged.

Wildlife Viewing:

  • With its diverse environments, the park is an excellent place for wildlife viewing and photography.

Cultural Sites:

  • Visitors can explore historic mining sites and learn about the cultural history of the region.

Conclusion

Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve offers an incredible opportunity for camping and wilderness experiences. With careful planning, respect for the environment, and appropriate safety measures, campers can have a truly memorable visit to one of America's most awe-inspiring natural areas.

Map of Campgrounds in Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve
Campgrounds in Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve
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