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Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

north carolina
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Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

Well here i am again,still trying to figure out where my next visit will be in alaska.Is it the lack of roads and slight difficulty getting to this park that keeps visitor numbers lower then other parks?I am pondering between this park and lake clark.I'll be back.

Bristol, Connecticut
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1. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

The fact that the park is off the beaten path and has less visitor facilities surely has an impact. There is no train or bus there and only a few lodging choices, it really is not on the way to anywhere, maybe Valdez, but Denali is on the road between 2 of the largest cities in AK. I definitely think it is a great choice for a second visit and could include a Valdez visit and a trip on the ferry. You can drive to Wrangell and you need to fly to Lake Clark if that has any influence on your choice. Both are beautiful parks and each has its unique charms. Lake Clark is great for bear viewing and salmon viewing/fishing, Wrangell has mountains/glaciers and a rich cultural/mining history and you should visit Kennicott Mine and McCarthy if you do go. For a good overview of life in Lake Clark and some of its history Google Dick Proenneke". You can always fly into Anchorage and head over to Lake Clark for a few days fly back to Anchorage rent a car and do the loop from Anchorage to Wrangell to Valdez to Whittier using the ferry. There I solved your dilema....

north carolina
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2. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

Thank you so much for your reply.Lots of things to consider.If one is prone to seasickness how will the ferrys be?I have actually read Dicks book about building the cabin--so good!It would be neat to actually see it.Thanks again

Alaska
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3. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

It is more distant from other popular attractions as Spacefry pointed out. So it starts out with time and expense of getting there and most people opt for the quicker and cheaper visit to Denali.

Wrangell is also less developed with fewer lodges and support facilities, so it is more an attraction for true wilderness seekers, people willing to be self sufficient and camp on their own - after paying for the cost to fly in and fly out of truly remote areas.

Given that there is no park road as there is in Denali, there is no opportunity to comfortably ride a shuttle bus and observe the animals over 60 miles of wilderness. To do that you would need an airplane or other access. The park has also not been studied as has Denali, so the locations of the wildlife are not nearly as defined and sightings not as reliable as at Denali. Imagine spending hundreds of dollars to fly in just when the bears or other animals decide to stay hidden ... it is cheaper in time and money to take that risk on the Denali shuttle.

Just as 40 below temperatures keep the riff-raff out of Fairbanks in the winter, remoteness and expense keep most people from enjoying all but a small part of what Wrangell-St Elias has to offer.

You might also consider the remoteness and expense of getting to see ANWR on the north slope of Alaska. THis is quite a popular area for environmentalists to rave about as wilderness, but there are almost no tourists who fly in to enjoy the beauty, again due to expense, time and lack of support facilities.

So for minimal investment of time and expense, I recommend Lake Clark area. It is also spectacularly beautiful.

71

PS Then again, until an area is declared a park or wilderness, most people pass by without appreciating the beauty and uniqueness. Picture Misty Fjords park before it was given that status and attention - it did not become more beautiful through the designation, only more easily recognized for what it offers.

fti
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4. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

I haven't been to Lake Clark but was in Wrangell/St. Elias for the first time this summer. Well worth the trip. As was stated, the access into the park is harder than Denali and not the infrastructure or services that they have at Denali. But well worth a visit. The traditional way into the park is the McCarthy Road or flights into McCarthy. We drove the McCarthy Road. Glacier hiking was definitely a highlight. The Kennecott Mill tour was also excellent. Next time I go there I would probably stay at the campground in Kennicott and maybe hike to one of the mines (I think the reference above to visiting the Kennecott Mine really meant the mill - the mines are a strenuous all-day round trip hike). I would also consider a longer day hike.

Another idea that intrigues me is to stay at one of the cabins inside the park. It would require a fly-in but would give options for hiking and definitely would be isolated.

Lake Clark is also on my list of places in AK to visit but due to the logistics and costs unfortunately I think it will be a few years before I get there.

John

USA
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5. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

Wrangell-St Elias is a true wilderness. Other than a few easy access points like McCarthy, which we enjoyed camping near immensely, most of Wrangell-St. Elias is an untouched wilderness difficult to access. If you are a backpacker it is a destination dream. However, even among myself and my backpacking friends who are avid backpackers, we have great respect for the planning, preparation, map-reading skills, and logistics it would take to go into Wrangell-St. Elias wilderness.

Chugiak, Alaska
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6. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

Just wanted to mention that a friend of mine drove out to Kennicott a couple weekends ago and went through three tires and a jack. And these are folks who have driven it before. Always make sure you are absolutely prepared if you venture out there.

jjo
Chicago
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7. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

Some years ago we did a fly in-camping trip with a guide at a place called Skolai Pass in Wrangell. I realize that sleeping in a tent is not everyone's idea of a vacation, it was costly to hire the plane and guide. That said, it was as beautiful and pristine a wilderness as I've ever seen. We saw no other humans, we saw glaciers and vistas and untouched wilderness for as far as the eye could see. We did not see much wildlife; this is not the place to go for that, and when you're camping, that's just fine. Just the flight to and from the Pass was as spectacular a flight as we've taken in Alaska.

Iowa
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8. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

Do you know if the road was bad on the gravel from Richardson Hwy to McCarthy on Hwy. 10? Or was it just between McCarthy and Kenicutt? I guess I'm not sure there is a road from McCarthy to Kenicutt. We're going to AK in early Sept. and thinking about taking the gravel road (Hwy 10) to McCarthy if the road is in decent condition.

Alaska
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9. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

The gravel road extends from Chitina to McCarthy, some 60 miles, I believe. You must park there and use the foot bridge unless you have a vehicle that can ford the river. There is cab service from McCarthy to Kennekott.

I have driven it 2 or 3 times with no tire trouble. I seem to remember 25 mph going in and 30 mph coming out was plenty fast in a vehicle I wasn't worried about beating up or scratching.

71

Wyoming & Sanibel
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10. Re: Reasons why Wrangell-St Elias has lower visits?

The road is NOT in decent condition! Yesterday, coming out from Kennicott about 15 miles from McCarthy, we (or rather our shuttle, as we decided not to drive it ourselves) passed a woman stranded with her second flat tire. It was a 3 hour drive each way on 66 miles of washboard dirt roads.

I know many people do manage the drive without problems, but who wants to be the exception on their vacation and spend a day trying to get a second tire?