Photo on right courtesy of Wrangell Mountain Air


The Wrangell–St. Elias National Park is the Nation’s largest. At over 13 million acres, it is six times the size of Yellowstone National Park and encompasses three major mountain ranges and well over 150 glaciers. Extending to the Canadian border, it joins the Canadian Kluane National Park. This "Mountain Kingdom of North America" offers outstanding opportunities for wilderness exploration. The Skolai Pass area, in the heart of this vast wilderness, is unsurpassed for high-country hiking. Accessible by way of a tundra landing strip at a 4,500-foot elevation, the park is surrounded by big walled granite mountains that soar thousands of feet upward. Hiking is superb in the open alpine country well above tree line.

From 1906 until 1938, the Kennicot Copper Mine, now located within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, was the richest copper ore-producing mine in the world. The Town of McCarthy, a little more than four miles away, developed to serve the miners who worked at Kennicot. It was a raucous community that revolved around saloons, gambling halls and a red light district. At the end of the notorious, 60-mile long, unpaved McCarthy Road (formerly a railroad bed), the town is populated today by fewer than a hundred year-round residents. The McCarthy/Kennicot area is both a destination in itself and a jumping off point for exploration beyond the end of the road.

Highlights of this trip include a day exploring McCarthy and Kennicot, with opportunities for touring the old mining town, meeting end-of-the road Alaskans, hiking onto the Root Glacier, horseback trail riding, guided ice climbing and flight seeing. A bush flight by small plane will take us to Skolai Pass. Once there, the opportunities for hiking and exploring are limitless. We can see the Russell Glacier, Hole in the Wall Glacier, Skolai Lake and view the distant, 16,000 peaks of the University range, to name just a few special places. The region is home to Caribou, Dall sheep, grizzly bear, wolves, golden eagles and ptarmigan.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service


The trip begins as we depart Anchorage for an all-day drive through spectacular Alaskan scenery. After arriving in McCarthy, we will stay two nights at a campground, with a day devoted to exploring this unique and historic mining community. The following morning, we will fly by small plane to the tundra landing strip in Skolai Pass. Soon after landing, we will hike a ways from the landing strip, choose a beautiful location and establish a base camp. For the remainder of our time in Skolai Pass, each day is a blank page, waiting to be written in by activities of your choosing. Extraordinary hiking destinations call us in all directions, and there will be ample time for wildlife viewing, enjoying late blooming wildflowers, reading, writing, simply sitting on a rock outcropping and watching the play of light and shadow across this stunning landscape. We fly back to McCarthy in the afternoon of our second to last day and stay at a budget-priced backpacker hotel with shower and laundry facilities. On our way back to Anchorage, the last day of the trip, we will stop when we wish to enjoy the views and wildlife. We will arrive back in Anchorage in time to enjoy a farewell dinner.

This trip is suitable for anyone capable of carrying a backpack and gear for one to two miles. No mountaineering or glacier trekking skills are required. Previous wilderness camping experience is helpful, but not essential.

What We Provide. We provide ground and air transportation from Anchorage to Skolai Pass, ground transportation in the McCarthy/Kennicot area, arrangements (but not fees) for any services you might choose in McCarthy (horseback riding, flight seeing, ice climbing, etc.), fees for campground and lodging in McCarthy, camp kitchen and supplies, all meals beginning with lunch the first day and ending with a farewell dinner the last day and at least one experienced guide/naturalist.

Your Responsibility. Guests are responsible for transportation to and from Anchorage, Alaska, light weight rain gear, comfortable foot wear that can get wet, water bottle, appropriate clothing for the season, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and/or head net and lodging in Anchorage before and after the trip. Additionally, guests are responsible for a backpack, a tent and ground cloth, sleeping bag and pad. Shared two-person tents, ground cloths, sleeping bags and pads can be provided for an additional fee.

Trip Fee & Reservations. The trip fee is $2,041 per person. A $835 per person deposit is due at the time the reservation is made. The balance is due six weeks prior to the trip. Reservations made 30 days before the trip begins must be paid in full before the trip begins. If you want us to provide you with a shared tent, ground cloth, sleeping bag and pad, please call for prices.

Cancellation Policy. Any cancellation made prior to 30 days before the trip begins will result in a $500 per person cancellation fee. Any cancellation made during the 30 days before the trip begins will result in a $835 per person cancellation fee. If the trip is canceled by Alaska Personal Journeys, the trip fee will be refunded. It is recommended that cancellation insurance be purchased through a travel agency in case the trip is canceled in order to cover non-refundable expenses such as airline and hotel fees.

Dollar-A-Day for Conservation. All of the courses and trips offered by Alaska Personal Journeys are intended to raise public awareness to the need to protect our environment. We hope you will consider contributing one dollar per day to support the work of local conservation groups doing their best to protect Alaska’s special places. Simply add one dollar per day to the Alaska Personal Journeys trip fee. We will make sure that your contribution gets to the most effective conservation groups and that the group or groups sends you a receipt for tax deduction purposes.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service


The following itinerary may be modified due to weather and water conditions or wildlife viewing opportunities. The itinerary is intended to give guests a general idea of what to expect.

Day 0. Arriving guests are picked up at the Anchorage airport and transported to their place of lodging for the evening. Dutch treat dinner at a local Anchorage restaurant.

Day 1. Early morning departure from Anchorage by van for an eight-hour drive to McCarthy, Alaska, with stops along the way to enjoy spectacular scenery. Check into the campground in McCarthy.

Day 2. Explore the historic mining town of McCarthy. Optional activities, not covered in trip fee, are available. Last opportunity to pack for bush flight into Skolai Pass.

Day 3. Morning bush flight to Skolai Pass. Short hike to a camping spot of our choosing. Establish base camp.

Day 4 through 7. Day hikes around Skolai Pass area. Scramble to ridge tops, hike to Russell Glacier, amble down Skolai Creek or sit near camp and be awed by where you are. Our days can be as strenuous and/or relaxed as you choose.

Day 8. Morning activities of your choice — including hiking, wildlife viewing and contemplation. Break camp. Afternoon flight back to McCarthy. Hot showers and pizza.

Day 9. Begin drive back to Anchorage, with stops along the way to view scenery and wildlife. Farewell dinner. Guests dropped off at their place of lodging or the airport.

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