Backcountry Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a backcountry permit?
Backcountry permits are not required, but travelers may complete an optional backcountry itinerary at any park visitor center. 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.

Are there trails?
There are no maintained trails in the backcountry of Wrangell-St. Elias. Maintained trails are limited to frontcountry in the Nabesna and McCarthy areas.

How do I know where are good places to visit?
Wrangell-St. Elias intentionally does not promote specific routes in the backcountry. The park aims to provide a wilderness experience to its visitors, including the discovery that comes with figuring out one’s own route. To talk through route ideas or ask about particular backcountry locations, contact a backcountry ranger via email at

Are there group size limits?
Donoho Basin: Groups of 8 or more people to Donoho Basin (near Kennecott) are required to register with the park at any of the visitors centers. Groups fewer than 8 people do not need to register.
Other park locations: No group size limit.

Do I need a Bear Resistant Food Container (BRFC)?
Yes. All food for trips into the backcountry must be stored in a BRFC. You can borrow a BRFC at any park visitor center. A refundable deposit is required. A full list of BRFCs that are approved for use in the park can be found on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website. In addition, check out these tips for travelling in bear country and what to do in case of an encounter - be bear aware!

Where can I get paper maps for my trip?
Topographic maps are sold at the Wrangell-St. Elias NP&P visitor centers. However, don’t count on the park having the maps that you need. We recommend that you purchase maps before you arrive in the park. You can also order them on the USGS online store or use online mapping resources.

Are dogs allowed in the backcountry?
Yes. They must be properly controlled at all times. Please note that dogs must be on a leash while in the Kennecott Historic Landmark area. For pet safety regarding traps or snares, visit Alaska Dept of Fish and Game: Sharing the Trails or download the brochure on how to remove pets from traps or snares.

Can I buy food and fuel once I arrive in the park?
It is recommended that you bring all of your supplies with you. There are small stores in Glennallen, Kenny Lake, Chistochina, Slana, and McCarthy, but their stock varies year to year and can run out.

Can I rent gear once I arrive in the park?
There are no opportunities to rent gear once you arrive at the park. We recommend you arrange all gear rentals in Anchorage or Fairbanks before you arrive at the park.

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: February 14, 2024

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Contact Info

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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