• McCarthy Road - Chitina, Alaska

      Photo by Rick Quinn
      McCarthy road runs for 60 miles, from Chitina to the tiny hamlet of McCarthy, deep within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The drive traverses pure wilderness, and ends in a surprise: five miles beyond the end of the road in McCarthy is Kennecott, a once bustling mill town in the middle of nowhere that was completely abandoned in 1938, when the adjacent copper mine was closed. The remaining buildings are empty, but largely intact, and many are being stabilized to insure they'll stay safe to explore. The isolated ghost town is on the National Register of Historic Places, an amazing example of an early 20th century copper mining operation. When the National Park was created in 1980, a decision was made to keep Kennecott standing, and to allow the hardy souls who were already living in the area, in McCarthy and elsewhere, to retain their property rights. It's all part of the uniquely Alaskan ambiance.

      If you go:
      To reach the McCarthy Road, take AK-4 from Glennallen, south toward Valdez as far as the Edgarton Hwy, AK-10, and follow that to Chitina, a distance of 67 miles. The all gravel McCarthy Road begins there. Note that rental cars are generally not allowed on McCarthy Road, and that no private vehicles are allowed on the last five mile stretch between McCarthy and Kennecott. You can hike it, or use one of the shuttles, available in summer. If you take your own vehicle to McCarthy, fill your tank in Glennallen or Copper Center, as it's a 240 mile round trip, with no services available. The main visitor's center for Wrangell-St. Elias is in Copper Center. Stop there for the most current information


      McCarthy Road
      Chitina, Alaska 99566 USA

      Mailing address:
      Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve
      P.O. Box 439
      Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway
      Copper Center, AK 99573 USA

      Phone Numbers:

      Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Visitor's Center
      +1 (907) 822-7250