Backcountry FAQs

Wrangell-St. Elias Backcountry Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a backcountry permit?
Backcountry permits are NOT required, but travelers are encouraged to complete an optional backcountry itinerary available at any park visitor center. Additionally, you should leave your route and expected time of return with a friend or family member. If you fail to check in from a backcountry trip, rangers will not initiate a search until a specific request from a friend or family member is made. If you are flying in or out of a remote airstrip, your pilot will be your main communication link to safety. Be sure to discuss "what if" scenarios with your pilot before you are dropped off.
Are there any group restrictions?
Yes. Starting on May 15, 2010, groups of 8 or more people to Donoho Basin (near Kennecott) are required to register with Wrangell-St. Elias. This can be achieved either in person in Kennecott, by phone, or online. Here is further information about Donoho Basin group camping.
Do I need a Bear Resistant Food Container (BRFC)?
YES! Proper food storage is required for all overnight backpacking trips into the backcountry. We do not have tall, sturdy trees in which you can hang food and keep food away from bears. You can check out a Bear Resistant Food Container at any park visitor center.
Are dogs allowed in the backcountry?
Yes. They must be properly controlled at all times.
Can I build a fire in the backcountry?
Yes. However, while campfires are allowed, a backpacking stove is the more logical choice for low-impact camping. Much of the backcountry is above treeline, so wood is not available. Use downed or dead wood only and if possible, build campfires in existing fire rings. Further, before leaving the site, make certain that your fire is completely extinguished.
Do I need to filter water while I'm in the backcountry?
All drinking water should be purified either by boiling, filtering, or using a chemical purification system.
I'd like to talk to a park ranger who's actually hiked some of these routes. How can I do this?
You can read first-hand accounts about backcountry routes and see pictures on our Backcountry Blog, written by backcountry park rangers. You can also stop in to any park visitor center and talk to our park rangers, to see what trails they've hiked.
Are there any cabins that I can use in the backcountry?
Yes! Find out about our public use cabins here.
What do I need to know before heading out into the backcountry?
We are a wilderness park, so you need to be prepared and you need to know how to stay safe. Find out about backcountry safety before heading out!
View of glaciers with forest, mountains, and cloudy blue skies in background.
The backcountry of Wrangell-St. Elias is quite different than the view of the park one gets from the area's roads. Here, glaciers and barren, rock covered land dominate the landscape.

NPS Photo- Neal Herbert

Last updated: June 6, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center, AK 99573


(907) 822-5234

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