Driving Park Roads
There are only two roads that actually penetrate the park: The Nabesna Road and the McCarthy Road. Both are gravel roads that are owned and maintained by the state of Alaska. The National Park Service does not maintain these roads. Both roads are 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. You can also check with the Alaska Road Traveler Information Service for the latest conditions.
Driving a Rental?
The McCarthy Road: Born On Rails
Although regularly maintained by the State of Alaska, the gravel surface makes for slow travel. It will take about 3 hours each way to drive this road. Other hazards can make it even longer: there are curves with limited visibility; heavy rain can make the road muddy and slippery; sharp rocks can cause flat tires; narrow and one-lane bridges make maneuvering large vehicles difficult. In fact, large vehicles are not encouraged to drive this road. Under normal summer conditions, most two-wheel drive vehicles can make the trip without difficulty, but be sure to carry at least one spare tire and an adequate jack. If you don't want to take your own vehicle on the road, you can take a shuttle or fly there. There is NO GAS along the McCarthy Road. At this time, the last place to obtain fuel is in Kenny Lake, AK.
Are you curious about what you'll be seeing as you drive? Learn more about the geology as you drive along the McCarthy Road.
At the end of the road, you will find parking areas and two foot bridges that cross the Kennicott River and lead to McCarthy and Kennecott. Access to McCarthy is by foot, bike, or shuttle. 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.The McCarthy road provides access to interesting geology, great hiking, fishing, and camping, as well as the wonderful historic communities of McCarthy and Kennecott. Once you get to Kennecott, stop by the Kennecott Visitor Center for park information.
The Nabesna Road: The Road Less Traveled
Please stop at the Slana Ranger Station for park information. Backcountry access by off-road vehicles (ORVs) on established trails is allowed with a permit obtained from the Slana Ranger Station. No gas or vehicle repair service is available in the area. Please respect private property located in many places along the road.
You can find useful and interesting information, listed by mile-marker, in The McCarthy Road Guide and The Nabesna Road Guide in the park newspaper.