• Winter in the Wrangells

    Wrangell - St Elias

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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  • Wrangell-St. Elias Visitor Center to close for the winter on Nov. 1st.

    Wrangell-St. Elias's main visitor center, located near Copper Center, AK, will be closed for the winter starting November 1. The visitor center will re-open on April 1, 2015.

Who Were Wrangell and Elias?

Where Did The Park Get It's Name?
The park is named after the Wrangell and St. Elias Mountain ranges. These mountains form the rugged backbone of the park.

The Wrangell Mountains were named after Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangel (1796-1870), who was a Russian Naval officer, arctic explorer, and government administrator. He was a governor of the Russian colonies in Alaska (1829-35), director of the Russian American company (1840-49), and Minister of the Navy (1855-57). He was highly critical of the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867. Several islands are named for him.

 
Mount Wrangell
The large sloping profile of Mount Wrangell can be seen throughout the Copper River Basin.
 

Lt. Henry T. Allen was the one to actually name many of the Wrangell Mountains in his exploration of the Copper River Basin in 1885. He also named some of the peaks within the range, such as Sanford, Drum, and Blackburn, as well as other natural features in the area.

 
Mount St. Elias

Mount St. Elias (18,008') is the second highest peak in the United States.

J. Parker

The St. Elias Mountains were named by explorer Vitus Bering (1681-1741). Bering was a Danish explorer in Russian employ that was selected in 1725 by Peter I to explore far NE Siberia. In 1728 Bering oversaw the exploration and mapping of the far reaches of Siberia and headed an expedition across the sea (which later was to bear his name) to Alaska. In 1741 he commanded the St. Peter while Aleksey Ilich Chirikov (d. 1748) commanded the St. Paul. They set out, rounded Kamchatka and then sailed west, where the vessels were separated. Bering sighted massive coastal mountains on July 16. The lofty summit of Mount St. Elias was the first piece of Alaska mainland to catch Vitus Bering’s eye. That day was the feast day of the Saint Elias. The area where they made landfall was named for Elias. Eventually the mountain too came to be called Mount St. Elias.

Did You Know?

Skolai Pass

Skolai Pass was named by U. S. Army Lt. Frederick Schwatka for Copper River Ahtna Chief Nicolai, or “Skolai”, as he was known to the upper Tanana River natives.