For "Travel Tuesday", let's explore this beautiful place:
Explore America’s last frontier.
"Part of a 31, 250-sq-mile wilderness area, this park is a crossroad of mountain ranges: Wrangell, Chugach and St Elias. Extensive ice fields and 100 major glaciers spill from the peaks, including one bigger than the state of Rhode Island. This park is more difficult to visit than Denali National Park but, to those who make the effort, no less impressive due to its mountainous scenery and numerous opportunities for wilderness adventure whether on foot or in a raft.
From Valdez, the Richardson Hwy is a jaw-dropping scenic route to Glennallen, past canyons, mountain passes and glaciers. The Wrangell–St Elias National Park Visitor Center (907-822-5234; www.nps.gov/wrst; Mile 106.8 Richardson Hwy; 8am-6pm) is in Copper Center.
A side road at Tonsina goes southeast to Chitina, which has the last place to fill up your tank. From there, the rugged Mt McCarthy Rd follows former railroad tracks 60 miles east through the stunning Chugach Mountains and across the mighty Copper River to the Kennicott River. Here a footbridge is used to cross the river and access historic McCarthy and the abandoned copper-mining town of Kennicott."
"Above the banks of Alaska's mighty Copper River, past the old railroad town of Chitina, the pavement of the Edgerton Highway ends next to a sign that reads "McCarthy: 60 miles.''
This, believe it or not, marks the entrance to North America's largest and wildest national park.
Just beyond the sign, a 1,400-foot steel bridge spans the roaring river that forms the western boundary of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It’s one of the few remaining marks of civilization left in a land reclaimed by nature. A railroad here used to shuttle workers to the old copper-mill town of Kennecott, but today, McCarthy Road buries most signs of it, and the country has returned to its original state: raw, rugged, and intimidating in its wilderness and scale.
Travel Essentials for the Mountain Kingdom
The first thing any traveler to Alaska needs to understand is that the place is big. The six- to 10-hour drive from Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve makes it tempting to fly to McCarthy, and flying is indeed an option—but it would be a mistake. The Glenn Highway out of Anchorage is designated a “National Scenic Byway” for good reason. This drive has it all: roaring rivers, scenic canyons, monstrous glaciers, snow-capped volcanoes, endless tundra, and the chance of spotting caribou, moose, and grizzly bear along the way.
For decades into the early 1990s, driving McCarthy Road was its own challenge. It was not uncommon to get stuck in the mud or suffer a flat tire from an old railroad spike, but successive upgrades to the surface have minimized the dangers. In good weather, a standard passenger car won't have any trouble making it to McCarthy, though some drivers might get nervous crossing the one-lane Kuskulana Bridge. It's intimidating, but became a little less so when guard rails were installed in 1988.
All of the major car-rental companies maintain offices at the airport, but most frown on driving to McCarthy, despite the improved road. Enterprise is an exception, but if you want extra driving security, check out GoNorth Car and RV Rental (www.gonorth-alaska.com/254.html), which specializes in trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
From the airport, head north toward the Matanuska Valley, where Depression-era Americans formed an agricultural colony in the 1930s. Turn east past the Matanuska Glacier, then follow the edge of the Chugach Mountains. Stop and stretch your legs at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Visitor Center, just south of Glennallen and halfway to McCarthy, to learn about the region’s history, culture, and landscapes.
A lot happened in this salmon-rich country before Europeans arrived, and plenty of stories date from the years just after as waves of gold-seeking pioneers trekked north. They roughed it. You don’t have to. Figure on a two-day drive to the park with a night in Copper River country, home to the fabled Copper River salmon. There are plenty of places to stay. Visit the National Park Service website for lodging options and travel tips: www.nps.gov/wrst.
The roads to Chitina are paved and in good condition, but McCarthy Road to the east is more frontier-like, ending at the pedestrian bridge just short of McCarthy. The shuttle bus to town waits on the other side."
Several videos here: http://www.nps.gov/wrst/photosmultimedia/ranger-minutes.htm
Veterans added to Rescue Site:
Now we can all help the veterans with a single click:
Jay and I are traveling to Mindi's ranch outside of Montgomery, TX.
Mindi, is the air flight attendant whose many dogs, poodles and dachshunds, I used to groom and babysit while she was working. Now that she has an adopted two year old people baby, she has a lady who stays there. We are going to look at some RV parts she no longer needs, and maybe make a bid on some remodeling.
I don't know when we would have time to do it, though, but I will enjoy visiting with her, the horses, and her dogs, today.