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McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Wasilla, Alaska
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McCarthy Kennicott Questions

I am planning a short trip to McCarthy sometime next week if we get good weather. I plan to fly in.

Can anyone give me their review of the accommodations?

Is it worth it to take a mountain bike?

Is it worth it to take the guided tour of the town vs going on own?

Is it worth it to go with a guide to the glacier?

Any other things you recommend?

Thanks.

Carmichael...
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1. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

McCarthy isn't much of a place. Our future neighbors in Homer used to live there. He used to be a bush pilot in and out of McCarthy.

There are no hotels, but probably some B&B.

The road into McCarthy is from Chitina (pronounced Chitna) along the roadbed of the long abandoned Copper River & Northwestern Railway which served Kennicott. The road is not paved. As for mountain biking I can't answer than as I think my biking days are over.

You said something about flying in. Your own aircraft or what. At the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge they can book a flight in which includes the guided tour. It cost around $400. But, it is worth it as the views are spectacular. The local flight strip is near the lodge in Copper Center. At McCarthy they will shuttle you in to Kennicott. But, perhaps you could get a better price by calling one of the local air carriers in McCarthy.

However, if you are really daring, drive in. At McCarthy someone will have to meet you as you cannot drive across the stream. A few glaciers are there to explore.

John

Adirondack, New York
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2. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Hi inluvwithAK, you were very helpful in answering sometime my naive questions before my recent trip and now I hope I can answer some of your questions if you can wait until tomorrow and if you are thinking about staying in Kennecott and not McCarthy.

My husband and I just returned from Alaska this afternoon and we spent 3 nights in Kennicott Glacier Lodge but about 7 minutes in McCarthy. So as you see I cannot tell you much about McCarthy but I can give you some ideas based on our very recent personal experiences during our visit to Kennecott. We hiked to and on Root Glacier, took a tour of the town but not of a mine. We ran out of time. Personally, I wouldn't take a bike. On the road between McCarthy and Kennecott there are endless potholes as big as a small house. Beside this one road there are no places to bike in Kennecott, maybe from McCarthy. If you cross the foot bridge you can bike on the McCarthy Highway. We took a strenuous and a long (9-10 hours) hike to Bonanza Mine. I still feel my knees. The trail to Bonanza is too steep for a mountain bike, in my opinion. Until tomorrow.

Carmichael...
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3. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

I forgot about the Kennicott Glacier Lodge at Kennecott (there is a story about the difference in spelling). The lodge is advertised in various publications. It looks old but isn't. We had lunch there during that fly-in tour two years ago.

And, we were also in Chitina in 1994 when we had our car. We started driving the road in but said enough of this. We had just completed the unpaved roads to Telegraph Creek, Atlin, the long Dempster Highway beyond the Arctic Circle, and then the road between Dawson and Tok.

Wasilla, Alaska
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4. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Places and John,

Thanks for the info so far. Yes, I can wait even a few days for your response. I am not leaving until around Tuesday.

I will be flying my own plane in, and if I took the bikes, it would be in my plane. I am not driving the McCarthy Rd. There is a gravel landing strip near McCarthy-Kennicott, and I can get a ride from any of the lodges, or hike.

When you hiked to the glacier and walked on it, did you use a guide service? Did you need crampons?

I see there are a couple of different places to stay in Kennicott. If you stayed at any, I'd appreciate your feedback on the accomodations.

It looks like basically there is hiking and the town tour and Kennicott Mine. Do you think two days and one night should suffice?

Thanks for your input. I'm sorry we had such poor weather here. It was a cool summer, so I am hoping for a lovely fall. Our leaves are falling already. Yikes!

Adirondack, New York
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5. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Hotels in McCarthy don't have own shuttles. There is one shuttle operated by Wrangell Mountain Air (#554-4411) and another one that looks like a gypsy van. Both charge $5.00 one way. Kennicott Glacier Lodge has its own shuttle and they can take you anywhere they go at a scheduled time. It is free for the guests of the lodge. You need to sign up for your transfer.

Previously while visiting Wrangell-St.Elias NP we stayed in a remote cabin for a few nights and were dropped off and picked up by a bush pilot. This time we stayed in the South Wing of the Kennicott Glacier Lodge (www.kennicottlodge.com or #1-800-582-5128). This was a great accommodation with a private bathroom and plentiful hot shower. This is a new building constructed in 2003. Until then there were no places to stay with private bathrooms. The South Wing is a beautiful building in a style of a historic lodge. The rooms in a main lodge are smaller and they share bathrooms but they look very clean and neat. We noticed that rooms not occupied by guests had always doors open. There were plenty of rooms available during our stay. I would stay there again in a heart beat.

Food was delicious except an apple bread pudding for desert but maybe because I'm not crazy about any puddings. Every dinner came with plenty of vegetables. Dinners are served a family style at 7 pm. Breakfasts are served from 7 am and you may opt for a continental breakfast ($9.95) or a hot buffet ($15.95). For us continental breakfasts were more than enough. You may also ask in the evening for a trail lunch. One night for dinner we had a maple glazed salmon, the other night Cornish hens. I cannot recall what we had on the third night.

Every evening there is some kind of slide show, either by Kennicott Wilderness Guides or National Park Rangers. We really enjoyed the one presented by a park ranger.

Kennicott Glacier Lodge is the only place to stay in Kennecott. There are a few very basic hotels in McCarthy. I have a map of McCarthy in front of me right now and I see there is Ma Johnson Hotel, McCarthy Lodge and Lancaster Backpacker Hotel.

We did not take a guided hike to a glacier as we always prefer hiking on our own because we stop for animals, birds, flowers, views and often these options are not emphasized enough while hiking with a group. We like Wrangell-Mt. Elias NP for its solitude and once you are with a larger group of people you don't realize how quiet and remote this area can be. Anyway, we walked to the face of the glacier and took a short walk on a glacier wearing our hiking boots. Having crampons would give us a chance to walk much farther. Next time we'll buy and bring our crampons. We did several hikes on glaciers in Alaska so this wasn't a priority for us on this trip. If you decide to go on a guided glacier hike crampons are supplied.

www.kennicottguides.com (#554-4444)

www.steliasguides.com (#554-4445)

www.copperoar.com (#888-933- 5427)

Many people go to Kennicott for a day visit and they love it too. For us three nights weren't enough but we love solitude, long hikes, relaxing in remote places, incredible views and three nights gave us only a sample of it. I would say that two nights would be minimum but if you cannot stay so long go for a shorter time. If you stay only one night you are still going to experience Kennecott but you won't have chance to go on any additional hikes such as strenuous hikes to Bonanza Mine or Jumbo Mine. Jumbo Mine suppose to more difficult than Bonanza.

Every afternoon at 3:45 there is a free guided tour of Kennecott with a park ranger. Just go to a ranger station located in a renovated historic train depot . We loved this tour and our ranger, Elizabeth Shaffer, made this tour not only very informative but also entertaining. The same tour is also offered in the morning but we were hiking to Root Glacier at that time. This tour takes you not only around the town but you also get to go inside of two buildings and one cabin. If you want to take a tour of Kennicott Mine then you have to take it with Kennicott Wilderness Guides located across the street from the lodge. It costs $25.00 per person but this is only way you get to go inside the mine and all the way to the top. You may sign up for this tour at the lodge and charge it to your room. Unfortunately, we ran out of time as our hike from Bonanza Mine took us much longer than we thought. We were planning to take a tour of the mine at 3:30 but returned from our hike at 5 pm.

Almost forgot to mention that Kennicott Glacier Lodge also has a guided walk around the town after dinner but you won't get to go inside of any buildings.

We had a gorgeous weather when we hiked to Root Glacier. There was a blue sky with white beautiful clouds, views of incredible mountains, black bears walking on the ridge just below us, birds flying and bathing in a mud paddle. The next days we had a lovely morning while hiking to Bonanza Mine but on the way down around 2:30 PM we got caught in a rain and this steep path became very demanding and took us much longer coming down then going up in the morning. I trust you'll have a lovely weather. Don't forget to check on aurora borealis at night. We were lucky to see one while staying in Kennicott Glacier Lodge. However, you cannot count on anyone to call you and tell you when Northern Lights come up. There are no phones in the rooms.

I'm so glad you are flying into McCarthy. The views are simply breathtaking from the above You wouldn't get an idea while driving how amazingly scenic and inaccessible these mountains are. It was one of the most scenic flights we ever took and we compared this one to a number of scenic flights within Europe, Africa and many places in Alaska.

Wasilla, Alaska
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6. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Places,

Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I think we shall stay a little longer than originally planned.

I am putting together an Alaskan itinerary for about a week, and then we are off to Hawaii for two weeks. This is a good time of year to be out about the state as the weather cooperates and the crowds have diminished.

We don't get the vibrant colors in fall due to our limited species of plants and trees, but it is still very beautiful. Last year, we hiked in Eklutna State Park to Twin Peaks and had the most spectacular of Eklutna Lake and the changing colors. I truly enjoy this time of year.

Again, thanks for your complete information.

Adirondack, New York
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7. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

ILWA, if you decide on a longer stay in Kennecott and a hike to Bonanza Mine I can tell you about a wonderful way to get to the trail. This approach would take you to the top and back of the mine with a great opportunity for scenic pictures that would include not only the mine but also glaciers and a whole range rugged mountains in the background.

Are you planning to visit Valdez too?

Wasilla, Alaska
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8. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Yes Places, I would like the information about the trail. Our plans would also include going to Valdez and Cordova. Earlier this summer, I was in Valdez fishing and hiking. I would like to go back and do some more activities. Anything in mind?

pine hill, nj
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9. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Places did a good job in describing Kennicott Glacier Lodge. We loved it there. We learned ice climbing when we were there, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. My husband and I were the only 2 clients, so we did everything at our own pace. It was very neat to learn not only how climb up massive ice walls, but also to be lowered down into moulins and have water rushing past you in theses ice caves. I did do a review under kennicott glacier guides. As far as mountain biking, I don't remember seeing any. Good Luck

Wasilla, Alaska
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10. Re: McCarthy Kennicott Questions

Thanks Tripgirl,

I am looking forward to our vacation beginning next week. I appreciate all your information.