ORV use in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve:
You can access a complete list of Off Road Vehicle Rules on the park laws and policies pages. Trails in Wrangell-St. Elias are limited to off-road vehicles that are less than 1,500 pounds. Vehicles that are prohibited include street-legal highway vehicles, custom 4x4 jeeps, SUVs, or trucks designed for off-road use, motorcycles, or dirt bikes.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve was established under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in December 1980. In abidance with ANILCA, Wrangell-St. Elias provides reasonable and feasible access to inholders, subsistence, and recreational users in the park. The most common means of access is by ORV or off-road vehicle.
A recreational ORV user is anyone who wants to use an ORV to access the park or preserve for recreational activities including sport hunting, and who is not a federally qualified subsistence user. If a non-local resident wants to engage in sport hunting with an ORV, they must obtain a recreational ORV permit. If a local is engaging in non-subsistence recreational ORV use, they must obtain a permit.
Recreational ORV permits are available FREE of charge in-person at the Slana Ranger Station for designated trails off the Nabesna Rd and at a kiosk at the Nugget Trailhead (Kotsina Rd junction) for designated trails off the McCarthy Rd.
Be aware that land ownership along the McCarthy Road and within the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a mix of public and private lands. The NPS welcomes visitors to the Kennecott area and reminds them that all the historic mill town and much of the surrounding area are within the Kennicott Subdivision, a residential community where NPS public lands are interspersed with privately owned lands. State ownership of the McCarthy Road ends at the southern boundary of the subdivision. Beyond that point, Kennicott Subdivision easements are private and reserved for the use of the present owners and their guests only. NHL visitors, as NPS guests in the subdivision, should be respectful of privately owned lands and residents of the subdivision.
For the purposes of this section, “off-road vehicle” (ORV) refers to all-purpose vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles that have been registered and approved by the State of Alaska for general highway use. Visitor use of ORVs to access the Kennecott mill town or points beyond, such as the Bonanza mine, is permitted as follows:
- Use of ORVs and other types of all-purpose vehicles is permitted on the State-owned McCarthy Road pursuant to Title 13, Chapter 2 of the Alaska Administrative Code (13 AAC 02).
- The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Kennicott River bridge was designed and intended predominantly for pedestrian use. To ensure safety for all users of the bridge, NPS urges ORV users to reduce speed and yield to pedestrians when crossing the bridge.
- As a landowner in the subdivision, the NPS encourages its guests to access the historic Kennecott mill town by using a local shuttle service from McCarthy. Use of a local shuttle service or reaching Kennecott by bicycle or by foot will minimize impacts of motor vehicle use on the historic character of Kennecott, on visitors’ experience of the NHL, and on subdivision residents. Landowners in Kennicott Subdivision have requested of NPS and its guests that property rights be respected where road easements cross their private land.
- On NPS lands in the NHL, parking is allowed only at the shuttle turnaround located next to the Kennecott Visitor Center. The turnaround has limited capacity for parking, with space only for 6-7 full-size vehicles, and often is filled early each day. Once the turnaround is filled, there is nowhere to park safely without blocking the intended use of the area as a shuttle turnaround.
- Parking on NPS lands elsewhere in the NHL is prohibited except for Federally qualified rural Alaska residents engaged in permitted subsistence activities.
- Subdivision easements (which are unavoidable to motorized visitors to Kennecott) are private and reserved for the use of present owners of lots in the subdivision and their guests.
Thank you for recreating responsibly and safely in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark.
Read some Quick Tips for Responsible ATV Riding, from the nonprofit group Tread Lightly.