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12-days

Backpacking Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

$5,895 /person

Trip Details

$5,895 /person - 12-days
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Shaped by volcanoes and scoured by ice ages, the north Wrangells give experienced backpackers the rare opportunity to feel like a mountaineer and travel like an explorer. Our 50-mile route will take you across glaciers, swift creeks, high mountain passes, and wide-open tundra. Combine all of this with exciting bush flights and absolute Alaska solitude, and you have the markings of a true backpacking adventure of a lifetime.

Are you looking to test your off-trail backpacking skills in America’s largest national park? This rarely visited area of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is arguably Alaska’s most dramatic wilderness and offers one of the few places on earth where you can hike on dry tundra directly beneath a vertical and heavily glaciated north face over 7000’ tall. This is truly an off-the-beaten path experience in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

Itinerary

Day 1
Lunch & dinner included

Today your guide(s) will pick-you up in Anchorage by 8:15am.  You’ll head to our Anchorage shop for a group orientation, before loading into our 15-passenger vans for the six-hour drive to Nabesna, the gateway community to the northern portion of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  Our route will take us north from Anchorage, traveling through the majestic Chugach and Talkeetna mountain ranges. After a picnic lunch at the Matanuska Glacier, we’ll continue east on the scenic Glenn Highway toward Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  By late afternoon, we’ll arrive in Nabesna and will check into the Ellis family lodge at Devils Mountain.  After settling into our accommodations, we’ll enjoy dinner at the lodge, pore over maps, and discuss the days ahead.

Day 2
All meals included, Distance: 5 miles, Elevation Gain: 1500′

After an early breakfast, we’ll load packs and prepare for our early morning Piper Super Cub flight into the park.  As you and your pilot lift off of the gravel runway, the grand scale of this wonderful wilderness will be immediately apparent.  The stunning vastness of nearly 13-million acres is overwhelming, and you’ll immediately understand Alaska’s sense of scale as the small plane drifts over the landscape.  After half an hour, you will begin the descent toward a tundra ridge above the upper reaches of Tumble Creek.  After everyone has enjoyed the ride in the cub, the skilled bush pilot will bid us farewell and disappear into the landscape.  We’ll then shoulder our packs and begin hiking toward the headwaters of Tumble Creek, all along trying to digest the majesty of the surrounding peaks that tower well over 13000’!  We’ll camp tonight along the Tumble Creek.

Day 3-5
All meals included, Average Daily Distance: 8-10 miles, Average Daily Elevation Gain: 2000′-4000′

For the next three days, we’ll make our way south toward the expansive north face of Mt. Jarvis.  The size and scope of Mt. Jarvis is really beyond description and can best be described as incomprehensible.  From the verdant tundra mesas to the twin summits, you’ll enjoy the rare opportunity to witness seven thousand feet of vertical relief and what is literally one of the most majestic vistas in North America.  We’ll cross Tumble Creek on the morning of Day 3, move up along a stunning tundra ridge toward Jarvis, and will set up camp next to a small lake beneath a hanging glacier.  Day 4 will be spent on a long and amazing day hike where we’ll cross an unnamed glacier (no ropes or glacier skills necessary) and ascend onto a large mesa beneath Mt. Jarvis.  Scouting the tundra for caribou and sheep, we’ll stop for lunch overlooking the Jacksina Glacier and the mighty north face of Jarvis.  By day 5, we’ll be headed north and onto the second stage of our circuit.

Day 6-10
All meals included, Average Daily Distance: 8-10 miles, Average Daily Elevation Gain: 2000′-4000′

The character of the country will change as we begin stage two of our journey and head north toward Tanada Peak.  Broad singular vistas will be replaced by tight steep valleys and new views around every corner.  We’ll hop glacier creeks, ascend steep and exposed sheep trails, and cross a 7000’ pass along the way.  While the weather and the terrain will dictate the exact location of each night’s camp, we will have plenty of time to truly explore this amazing and diverse landscape.  By the end of Day 10, we’ll be camped along a small creek near a gravel airstrip.

Day 11
All meals included

After a celebratory breakfast in the wilderness, our pilot will begin the process of flying us out of the wilderness one to two at a time.  By early afternoon, we’ll again be relaxing at the Devil’s Mountain Lodge where we’ll enjoy hot showers and a celebratory dinner in the lodge dining room.

Day 12
Breakfast & lunch included

After breakfast at the lodge, we’ll pack up and by 10am we’ll be headed back to Anchorage where we’ll conclude our journey and bid one another farewell.  If you are leaving Alaska on this day, please schedule your homebound flights for after 9pm.  Better still, you can opt to stay in Anchorage overnight.

What's Included

  • All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
  • Toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
  • Water treatment options
  • Trekking poles
  • Roundtrip van transportation from Anchorage to Nabesna
  • Roundtrip air transportation from Nabesna to the wilderness
  • Lodging on nights one and eleven at the rustic Devils Mountain Lodge
  • Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
  • All meals from lunch on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
  • Storage for your extra travel items while in the field

Alaska Factor: The Real Deal

While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip. The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary. Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.” Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

Available Dates

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Trip Stats

Price:
$5,895 /person
Duration:
12-days
Length:
70+ miles
Intensity:
Level 3
Begins In:
Anchorage
Ends In:
Anchorage
Airport:
Anchorage International (ANC)
Wildlife:
Bears, Dall Sheep, Wolves, Caribou, Moose
Great For:
Explorers, Couples, Individuals
Activity:
Backpacking

Get Ready

What to Pack:

Helpful gear suggestions and recommendations for this trip.

Gear List
Itinerary:

Download a detailed itinerary of this trip.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Day 1
Lunch & dinner included

Today your guide(s) will pick-you up in Anchorage by 8:15am.  You’ll head to our Anchorage shop for a group orientation, before loading into our 15-passenger vans for the six-hour drive to Nabesna, the gateway community to the northern portion of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  Our route will take us north from Anchorage, traveling through the majestic Chugach and Talkeetna mountain ranges. After a picnic lunch at the Matanuska Glacier, we’ll continue east on the scenic Glenn Highway toward Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  By late afternoon, we’ll arrive in Nabesna and will check into the Ellis family lodge at Devils Mountain.  After settling into our accommodations, we’ll enjoy dinner at the lodge, pore over maps, and discuss the days ahead.

Day 2
All meals included, Distance: 5 miles, Elevation Gain: 1500′

After an early breakfast, we’ll load packs and prepare for our early morning Piper Super Cub flight into the park.  As you and your pilot lift off of the gravel runway, the grand scale of this wonderful wilderness will be immediately apparent.  The stunning vastness of nearly 13-million acres is overwhelming, and you’ll immediately understand Alaska’s sense of scale as the small plane drifts over the landscape.  After half an hour, you will begin the descent toward a tundra ridge above the upper reaches of Tumble Creek.  After everyone has enjoyed the ride in the cub, the skilled bush pilot will bid us farewell and disappear into the landscape.  We’ll then shoulder our packs and begin hiking toward the headwaters of Tumble Creek, all along trying to digest the majesty of the surrounding peaks that tower well over 13000’!  We’ll camp tonight along the Tumble Creek.

Day 3-5
All meals included, Average Daily Distance: 8-10 miles, Average Daily Elevation Gain: 2000′-4000′

For the next three days, we’ll make our way south toward the expansive north face of Mt. Jarvis.  The size and scope of Mt. Jarvis is really beyond description and can best be described as incomprehensible.  From the verdant tundra mesas to the twin summits, you’ll enjoy the rare opportunity to witness seven thousand feet of vertical relief and what is literally one of the most majestic vistas in North America.  We’ll cross Tumble Creek on the morning of Day 3, move up along a stunning tundra ridge toward Jarvis, and will set up camp next to a small lake beneath a hanging glacier.  Day 4 will be spent on a long and amazing day hike where we’ll cross an unnamed glacier (no ropes or glacier skills necessary) and ascend onto a large mesa beneath Mt. Jarvis.  Scouting the tundra for caribou and sheep, we’ll stop for lunch overlooking the Jacksina Glacier and the mighty north face of Jarvis.  By day 5, we’ll be headed north and onto the second stage of our circuit.

Day 6-10
All meals included, Average Daily Distance: 8-10 miles, Average Daily Elevation Gain: 2000′-4000′

The character of the country will change as we begin stage two of our journey and head north toward Tanada Peak.  Broad singular vistas will be replaced by tight steep valleys and new views around every corner.  We’ll hop glacier creeks, ascend steep and exposed sheep trails, and cross a 7000’ pass along the way.  While the weather and the terrain will dictate the exact location of each night’s camp, we will have plenty of time to truly explore this amazing and diverse landscape.  By the end of Day 10, we’ll be camped along a small creek near a gravel airstrip.

Day 11
All meals included

After a celebratory breakfast in the wilderness, our pilot will begin the process of flying us out of the wilderness one to two at a time.  By early afternoon, we’ll again be relaxing at the Devil’s Mountain Lodge where we’ll enjoy hot showers and a celebratory dinner in the lodge dining room.

Day 12
Breakfast & lunch included

After breakfast at the lodge, we’ll pack up and by 10am we’ll be headed back to Anchorage where we’ll conclude our journey and bid one another farewell.  If you are leaving Alaska on this day, please schedule your homebound flights for after 9pm.  Better still, you can opt to stay in Anchorage overnight.

What's Included

  • All group gear: Expedition quality tents, group tarp, all cooking equipment & eating utensils
  • Toilet supplies including TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite phone, maps, GPS, and medical kit
  • Water treatment options
  • Trekking poles
  • Roundtrip van transportation from Anchorage to Nabesna
  • Roundtrip air transportation from Nabesna to the wilderness
  • Lodging on nights one and eleven at the rustic Devils Mountain Lodge
  • Professional guide service at a maximum 4:1 client to guide ratio
  • All meals from lunch on day one through lunch on the final day of the itinerary
  • Storage for your extra travel items while in the field

Alaska Factor: The Real Deal

While Alaska Alpine Adventures endeavors to follow our itineraries as written, odds are in fact slim that you actually will during the camping portion of this trip. The expeditionary factors at play quite often compel our guides to deviate from the written itinerary. Guide considerations could include weather conditions, group preference, individual ability, specific safety considerations, or unforeseeable circumstances; collectively what many have called “The Alaska Factor.” Flight times into and out of the wilderness may also vary based on any number of similar factors. Therefore we strongly suggest that you approach any adventure in Alaska with an open mind.

Location

Trip Reviews

One of the reasons I chose AAA was the fact that I didn’t need to worry about logistics.Everything that was promised was delivered 100 percent.  I hope that in a couple of years I’ll come back and do the Lake Clark trip, and yes I’ll be traveling with AAA.

It was terrific. LOVED IT. Love Alaska. And the pre-trip responsiveness of Dan & Aaron was very helpful. I have recommended Alaska Alpine Adventures to others.

Our trip was amazing! I would do this trip again and I would definitely tour with your company again.

Absolutely LOVED my first experience with you all! Cannot wait to book another trip.

Looking for more reviews? View all trip testimonials.

Trip Photos

Trip FAQs

Have questions about this trip? We’ve got answers.

Why go to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park?

The list of superlatives is staggering. In addition to being America’s largest national park (larger than Rhode Island and Vermont combined!), Wrangell-St. Elias is home to the continent’s largest assemblage of glaciers, the second highest peak in the US, and the greatest number of peaks above 16,000 feet. The Alaska, Chugach and Wrangell-Saint Elias ranges converge in what is referred to as the “mountain kingdom of North America.” This spectacular wilderness includes the continent’s largest assemblage of glaciers, and the greatest collection of peaks above 16,000 feet, including Mount St. Elias (18,008′), the second highest peak in the United States, the largest non-polar icefield in the world and a boundary that, when combined with Kluane Tatshenshini/Alsek National Park in Canada and with Glacier Bay National Park, encompasses the world’s largest internationally protected area at 24 million acres and is recognized as a World Heritage Site.

Where is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park?

America’s largest National Park (13 million acres) is located on the eastern edge of the state of Alaska, sharing its eastern boarder with Canada’s Kluane National Park. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park lies approximately 200 air miles east of Anchorage, Alaska.

How do you get to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park?

Access to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is by van, small aircraft or, in some instances, by boat.

Is transportation to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park included in the price of the trip?

Absolutely, our trips are all inclusive from Anchorage. All you need to do is get yourself to Anchorage by Day 1 of your itinerary.

Where will you meet us?

We all meet at our shop in Anchorage on the morning of Day 1 for an orientation and gear check. The meeting time is typically 8am.

Who will I be flying with and what time will we be departing on day 1?

After the orientation at our shop, you and your guide team will load into a comfortable 15-passenger van for the trip to Nebesna, Alaska, a beautiful drive that takes around 6 hours. From there, you'll check into Devils Mountain Lodge for the evening and prepare for the adventure ahead. We'll be flying with K-Air into the North Wrangell’s.

Is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park a good place for viewing wildlife?

Absolutely. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is home to grizzly, coastal brown, and black bears, mountain goats, caribou, moose, wolves, wolverines, lynx and tremendous seasonal populations of migratory birds. The park also boasts one of the largest concentrations of Dall’s sheep in North America.

For additional information, please reach out to us.

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