• Winter in the Wrangells

    Wrangell - St Elias

    National Park & Preserve Alaska


Bull Moose photo by G. Herben
Moose are often spotted near willow bogs and lakes.
George Herben

Did You Know?

  • Ten million swans, geese, and ducks nest in Alaska each year. That's ten times the population of people in Montana!
  • Only female mosquitoes bite. They use blood for egg production.
  • Iceworms really do exist! A small segmented black worm, less than an inch long, the iceworm lives in temperatures just below freezing. They can be found in the ice on the surface of glaciers (look like black threads).
  • In Alaska, caribou outnumber people. There are about 616,000 people in Alaska and 900,000 caribou.
  • Alaska has NO rabbits (they are all hares). A rabbit is born without hair; hares are born with hair already. In Alaska, you need all the warmth you can get!

Elusive Wildlife
People often ask, "Where is the wildlife in Wrangell-St. Elias?" The answer is - wildlife is everywhere - you just need to know where to look for signs of it!

Be A Nature Detective
Although you may not see a bear or lynx, if you look closely, you might see signs that they've been in the neighborhood! Animal tracks and scat, animal droppings, might be as close as looking down at your feet. A red fox leaves a strong scent where it has been. Check tree trunks for bear scratches or hair.

Where ARE the animals?
In spring, melting snow allows plants to start sprouting in the high mountains. Many animals leave the spruce forests and travel higher to find these sweet and nutritious young plants. Heading higher also takes them away from flies and swarming mosquitoes that are common in spring and early summer.

Scan high mountainsides and rocky ridges for small white dots...these could be sheep! Wrangell-St. Elias contains one of the largest concentrations of Dall sheep in North America. Moose are often seen near willow bogs and lakes. In the fall, bears and other animals may be sighted near salmon spawning streams. Other species of large mammals here include grizzly & black bears, mountain goats, caribou, and even two herds of transplanted bison.

Stay alert and you may see a variety of smaller animals, such as snowshoe hares, arctic ground squirrels, beaver, porcupine, trumpeter swans, and foxes near roads and trails.

The Copper River Basin and Yakutat Bay areas are along major migratory routes for numerous bird species. The Park and Preserve provides wetland areas for nesting geese, trumpeter swans, ducks and other waterfowl. Both golden and bald eagles nest within the park. Year-round species include ptarmigan, grouse, ravens and a variety of owls.

The Copper River watershed provides spawning areas for three types of salmon (red, silver and king) along with rainbow trout, lake trout, grayling, steelhead, Dolly Varden and burbot.

The coastal areas of the park are habitat for abundant marine mammals, including sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, porpoises and even whales.

Did You Know?