• Winter in the Wrangells

    Wrangell - St Elias

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Driving Park Roads

Only two roads actually penetrate the park, The Nabesna Road, and the McCarthy Road. Both are gravel, but usually passable to all vehicles during the summer months (high clearance is highly-recommended). Conditions can change quickly here, so it is always a good idea to stop by a park visitor center to check on current road conditions before heading out.

Driving a Rental?
Most major car rental companies in Anchorage do not let renters drive vehicles on gravel roads. Several of the discount and independent rental companies do, but may have added expenses or requirements for such a rental. You may want to contact the following companies about renting a vehicle that you can drive on a gravel road.

  • Levi Car Rental 907-563-2279
  • High Country Car Rental 1-888-685-1155
  • A-1 Car Rental 907-929-1222
  • Payless Car Rental 1-800-729-5377
  • Advantage Car and Van Rental 907-243-8806
 

The Road Less Traveled
This 42-mile Nabesna Road traverses the headwaters country of the Copper and Tanana drainages. It is a dusty, gravel, dead end road that is short on services but big on wilderness! The Nabesna Road offers Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve visitors a unique opportunity to explore interior Alaska. The drive is an adventure in the midst of the Wrangell, Mentasta and Nutzotin Mountains. Camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing and hunting are just a sampling of the activities available just off of the road.

The Nabesna Road was originally built in 1933 by the Alaska Road Commission to supply Nabesna Mine and to ship out its ore. Today, the Alaska Department of Transportation maintains the Nabesna Road and, generally, the road is passable by most two-wheel drive vehicles. However, higher clearance and/or four-wheel drive are occasionally needed beyond Mile 29 due to stream crossings. Wet conditions such as spring run-off and heavy rain can make these stream crossings impassable. The last four miles of the road are not maintained and may be deeply rutted and wet. Vehicle travel on this portion of the road is not recommended.

Get the Nabesna Road Audio Tour!

 

Born On Rails
In the heart of the park lies the 61-mile McCarthy Road. This road follows the old Copper River and Northwestern Railroad route. Moose, bear, sheep, and bald eagles may be seen. Camping is available along the route. High-clearance two-wheel drive vehicles can usually make the trip in summer, but always check on current conditions before heading out.

It will take about 3 hours each way to drive this road. If you don't want to take your own vehicle on the road, you can take a shuttle or fly there. The road ends at the McCarthy bridge (foot traffic only). From McCarthy, it's a five mile hike to the Kennecott historic mine area. For those who would rather not walk, there are shuttle rides available during the summer months.

Did You Know?

55 miles separates Alaska from Russia

Alaska and Russia are neighbors! At the closest point, the two are separated by just 55 miles. The Bering Sea divides the land masses.