By Northwest Travel & Life Staff
To wrap your head around the sheer scale of some things, they are best described in figures. Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is one such thing. At 13.2 million acres (nearly 21,000 square miles, about the size of Croatia), it is the country’s largest national park. It has the second largest peak in the U.S. at 18,000 feet. And 10 million acres of it are designated as Wilderness Area, the largest in the U.S.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is also home of the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. The sprawling remains of the early 20th-century copper mining operation are intact for travelers to the national park to visit. It was once a self-contained company town for miners, service workers, medical professionals and others.
At the historic landmark, visitors can explore many of the old buildings, some with artifacts and exhibits about its history. The Visitor Center, located in the old schoolhouse, is the best place to begin an exploration of the site. At the center, visitors can meet up with a park ranger to learn more about the history or go on a guided site tour or nature walk. A guided hardhat tour of the 14-story Concentration Mill is a highlight of any visit. Maps are available for those who prefer a self-guided tour.
Lodging is available at Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark at Kennecott Glacier Lodge. Lodging is also available in the town of McCarthy (5 miles from the mine site) at Ma Johnson’s Historical Hotel. Shuttle service is available between McCarthy and Kennecott Mines.
Plan your visit to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark at nps.gov/wrst.