When you visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, you'll need to open your eyes wide to take it all in. Bordering Canada's Kluane National Park, this is the biggest U.S. national park, six times the size of Yellowstone. Here you'll find North America's largest subpolar icefield, which stretches 100 miles, as well as nine of the 16 highest peaks on U.S. soil. The park also encompasses glaciers, rivers, an active volcano, and a historic copper mine.
Fortunately, getting here is not a massive undertaking: about a day's drive from Anchorage. Once you're here, whether you've come to hike, ski, kayak, or climb, you will see wildlife. The park is home to the continent's largest concentration of Dall sheep, about 13,000. There are also grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, caribou, moose, gray wolves, river otters, sea lions, porpoises, and orca whales, as well as bald and golden eagles.
If You Go
As with all Alaska parks, the best time to visit Wrangell-St. Elias is in the summer. You might have to endure frequent cloudy weather, but the June wildflowers and late summer foliage, especially in low alpine tundra terrain, will bring plenty of vibrancy to your day.
There are no maintained trails or paved roads in the park, but backcountry adventures abound. Venturing into the backcountry flirts with a variety of risks, including hypothermia, bear encounters, and treacherous river crossings. But with enough preparation and precautions, you will be rewarded with an utterly unforgettable experience.