Wrangell-St. Elias National Park&Preserve, AK

America’s largest national park with stunning views!

With 13.2 acres, the park is as big as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Switzerland combined or just 6 times Yellowstone National Park. It has peaks upon peaks ad glaciers after glaciers. If you follow any stream or river you will come upon a glacier at the end.

This park makes you feel as if this is pure nature and it is! Visiting you feel like you are the first one to see this sight.

Nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States are found in the four mountain ranges that meet in the park. The Wrangells, the Chugach, the Saint Elias Mountians (which is the second tallest peak in North America with a hight of 18.008ft) as well as the Nutzotin and Mentasta mountains.

The Wrangells were created by volcanic activity but nowadays only Mount Wrangells remains active and had its last eruption in 1900. With a hight of 14.163ft it is one of the largest active volcanoes in North America.
The mountains are covered in snow year-round. The national park contains North America’s largest subpolar icefield, the Bagley Icefield. It spawns giant glaciers including the Tana, Miles, Hubbard and Guyot.

The vegetation of the park appears sparse though there is a lot of wildlife in the interior of the park. Often seen here are moose, dall sheep, caribou, bears, salmon and near the coastal area many sea lions and harbor seals.

We came here on our drive from Fairbanks back to Anchorage and drove the eastern side to see something new than driving by Denali again. In Fairbanks we met some nice people who highly recommended the National Park which made us take this little detour. And it was really worth it. As everywhere else in Alaska it is not crowded at all in this area. It is good to have a 4-wheel drive car with you. Even before you drive into the park the paved road stops and a dirt road with a lot of gravel starts. Also I would not recommend to come with a big car. In Chitina, the last “town” before the National Park has small roads that lead though rock walls on each side. There is no real entrance to the National Park so you also don’t have to pay any fees. The entrance is marked by a small sign with maps for trails and driving. Before the entrance is a big campground.

Driving into the National Park will bring you up a small gravel road. The first few miles there is not a huge variety of vegetation or sights but driving further into the park you will come to see glaciers, streams and a lot of high peaks. We did not drive really far into the park. To really see some variety you have to drive the one road, called McCarthy Road, far into the park for some hours. Since there is not a lot of different sights in the beginning we decided to turn around to continue our drive to Anchorage. Even though we did not stay for a long time it was really worth visiting. The sights even in the beginning of the park are breathtaking. Also the road into the park is very interesting because you will drive by many little small town. If you have some spare time I would definitely recommend coming here but if you do not have a lot of time it is really okay to skip this park in my opinion since it will take a long time to drive to all the famous sights and I would really recommend getting the right car for that.


Liberty Falls State Recreation Site

On our way to Wrangell National Park we stopped at Liberty Falls State Recreation Site and what can I say? It was beautiful!The waterfall is located on Mile 24 on Edgerton Hwy and it is really easy to get to.

There is a parking spot right next to it, as well as a campground, called Liberty Falls Campground. The campground offers ten sites for $5 a night. It is super well maintained and well equipped. It has tent platforms and picnic tables and probably the most beautiful location any campground could have in this area. The parking lot also offers bathrooms.

Since you do not necessarily have to hike to the waterfall it is a great quick stop on the way to the National Park. If you came here to hike, there is the so-called Liberty Falls Trail. It is 1.7 miles long and starts right behind the parking lot. In the beginning the trail is a bit steep but you’ll get rewarded in the end with a beautiful lake and views of the mountains, when the trees start opening up.


 

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