A backpacking trip in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve can be an exciting and rewarding experience if you are prepared for the difficulties of traveling through rugged, undeveloped land. Help us keep you safe on your adventure by reading the park's backcountry safety page. Do note that proper food storage is required! Bear Resistant Food Containers are available from all park visitor centers.
For many backpackers, hiring the services of a local guide will make the trip safer and more enjoyable. In general, the areas above tree line (~3,000') afford the easiest hiking and best views. These areas are often accessed by chartering a flight to one of the many possible "bush" landing strips. Note that there are many more places to land than are shown on maps.
Walking across the spruce muskeg with a pack or crossing rivers can take much more time than expected. From a distance the landscape may look like easy hiking, but place a foot in it and you quickly find out the land tests your endurance. While planning your trips, remember that there are very few actual "trails" like you may find in other national parks in the lower 48. Here you will find rugged, un-maintained routes over which you may only be able to travel a few miles in a day. Your party will need to be experienced in reading and following a map and compass. Self-rescue skills are imperative as help is not readily available. For information about permits, dogs in the backcountry, cabins, and much more, check out our Backcountry Frequently Asked Questions page.
You may contact the Copper Center Visitor Center for trip-planning assistance. However, we are not able to recommend multi-day backpacking routes to you. It is your responsibility to research possible routes, and we will gladly answer questions and provide any assistance that we can. We strongly recommend researching routes in hiking books BEFORE contacting us. Here are some suggestions:
There are countless backpacking trips that can be done in Wrangell-St. Elias. Most of the routes listed here are generally "known" and can be found in hiking books and in magazine articles. Other routes can be found through local guide services and air taxis. There are no maintained or marked routes in the park.
Backpacking Routes Near the Kennecott District:
Nugget Creek Trail (pdf format 1 MB)
The Goat Trail
Hidden Creek Valley
Backcountry Routes Near the Nabesna District:
Trail Creek-Lost Creek Loop (pdf format 953 KB)
Beaver Creek Area
Chelle Lake Area
Sanford - Dadina Plateau
Baultoff Creek Area
Last updated: September 3, 2019