The Nabesna Road
The Nabesna Road Guide
This 42-mile gravel road from Slana to Nabesna 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.
Backcountry access by off-road vehicles on established trails is allowed with a permit obtained from the Slana Ranger Station. Hikers may venture out on the trails but need to keep in mind that trails can be very muddy. Better hiking is available on the trails and routes that lead into the Mentasta Mountains north of the road or past mile 36. Another option for backpackers is to contract a short flight into the high country with an air taxi. Ask at park headquarters or at the Slana Ranger Station for more information.
Visitor services are very limited. Check with the Slana Ranger Station for current lodging available along the road. No gas or vehicle repair service is available. Please respect private property located in many places along the road.
Check out the Hiking Routes located along the Nabesna Road!
Did You Know?
You can stroll along an original section of the Valdez Trail, an historic pack route to Interior Alaska, at the Wrangell-St. Elias visitor center at Copper Center.