It’s no secret that some of the world’s most inspiring national parks are located inside the borders of the United States of America. Places like the Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and others will definitely be on the top of your bucket list, but what about getting to know the largest national park in the USA? Surprised that the largest is not even one of the most visited reserves in the states? Welcome to the club – there are plenty of people wondering about the same thing. Sure, a beauty of nature does not take size as criteria, but there’s something amazing about this place, and we are convinced that it is an underrated park.
Wrangell-St. Elias – Largest national park in the USA
Found somewhere in the US State of Alaska, there’s this beautiful national preserve standing in the shadow of its more famous and graceful colleagues. Although Wrangell-St. Elias may be the largest protected area in the USA, it is poorly visited throughout the year in comparison to other parks. For example, during the year of 2012 the area was visited by 87,158 visitors, a number much smaller than the millions of visitors “attacking” the other preserves every year. Nevertheless, this certainly isn’t a good enough reason for you to skip Wrangell-St. Elias and not pay attention to it at all. From scenic sights to amazing natural features and exciting wildlife – this park can offer you a lovely time only if you let it.
Wrangell Mountains and Volcanoes
Due to the specific weather conditions, you may encounter natural features that you cannot easily find in many other parks in the USA. First of all, it would be all right to acknowledge that the name of this place comes after the name of the main mountains in the area, which are naturally called Wrangell. Of course, there are other mountains as well, but the majority of the volcanoes that are a part of this protected area are located on exactly this mountain. On top of that, Mount Wrangell is considered to be the only Wrangell volcano that is still active. However, do not worry because geologists say that there are no signs of eruption anytime soon, even though you might be able to encounter some steam plume rising out of the crater. And do have in mind that you might be able to find the volcano all covered in snow, which is not something you see every day. Other than that, don’t forget to see other less frightening volcanoes such as Mount Drum, Mount Sanford, Capital Mountain, Tanada Peak, Boomerang Volcano, Mount Blackburn, most of which are a shield volcano.
Fantastic glaciers everywhere
There are spectacular glaciers scattered throughout the whole area, making up about 25 percent of the park. These glaciers melt during the summer time, which become the spring of many rivers flowing through the region, braiding like arteries. If you’re looking for the most spectacular glaciers, then search for Bagley Icefield, Nabesna, Malaspina, and Hubbard. This area is known to have the largest concentration of glaciers in North America. If you’re eager to explore even more, then book a tour of hiking and ice climbing or sail through the waters of the park and enjoy its lovely nature.
Try out Packrafting
For the ultimate wilderness experience, you have to try pack rafting! It is a new sport whose idea was born right in Alaska and is taking over the world. Basically, it’s an activity that combines both hiking long distances and rafting. The interesting thing is that the equipment for this action is always with you, taking it everywhere you go just like a turtle. While you’re walking and climbing, you’re actually caring an inflatable and lightweight personal raft that can fit into you backpack, along with paddle and dry suit. When you reach the point of where you have to go through water, you just jump aboard your personal boat and paddle your way through the park. This is way harder than you’re imagining it right now, but that’s why there are special classes and guides organized beforehand. There’s no doubt you will have loads of fun exploring the area this way, so make sure to check out the website for more information.
Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark
Along with Wrangell-St. Elias national park, there is a historical treasure that has been protected over time and entitled to be a national historic landmark. We’re talking about the Kennecott Mines, a protected land and mining claims that serve as a reminder of great discovery and technological innovation, while still holding to the impressive structures and artifacts that are highly relevant to America’s past. Unfortunately, many of the buildings have been abandoned for over sixty years, a situation calling for immediate stabilization of the constructions. Having its amazing nature surrounding the buildings, it is a great pleasure to enjoy the sight of the entire composition so make sure to visit this part of the park as well. And of course, get informed a little bit more about its history.
Book a flightseeing tour
Sure hiking and sailing can help you taste the allure of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, but don’t you find it even more exciting to experience the area from up above? Considering the size of the park, exploring from a high point of view would be ideal for you to see a bigger part of the reserve, so you better conquer your phobia of heights. And since the park is huge and you can’t see it all nicely in just one flight, you have the opportunity to choose among different tours that put the emphasis on a particular natural feature. Therefore, decide whether you want to do some of the following tours: Grand, Mountain, Backcountry and Glacier Tour. Every each of these tours costs and lasts differently, so you should better decide on what you’d like to see from above the most.
Drive along Nabesna Road
Nabesna Road is one of the most used gravel roads to get from one place to the national park to another. However, this is not the only significance of the path. Once you drive your way through the Nabesna Road, you’ll be so amazed that you’ll wish the journey will never end. It’s the most beautiful path in the area, as you keep your eyes on the abundant vegetation, the mesmerizing colors of nature and the big snowy mountains. Although there’s a speed limit with a maximum of 35 mph, you won’t feel nervous about having to drive slowly since the pace of the drive will let you adequately enjoy all the jaw-dropping beauty around you.
Size may not matter, but astonishing natural parks definitely do – so make sure to find some time and visit Wrangell-St. Elias.