There are only two roads that enter the park: The Nabesna Road and the McCarthy Road. Both are gravel roads that are owned and maintained by the state of Alaska and not the National Park Service. Both roads are usually passable to all vehicles during the summer months. For driving beyond Mile 29 of the Nabesna Road, a high clearance vehicle is recommended. Conditions can change quickly, so it's a good idea to stop by the Copper Center or Chitina visitor centers to check on current road conditions. You can also check with the Alaska Road Traveler Information Service for the latest conditions.
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 cause ruts and potholes, sharp rocks can cause flat tires, and narrow, 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.
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, visit the Kennecott Visitor Center for park information.
The Nabesna Road: The Road Less Traveled
Please visit 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.
Last updated: June 22, 2020