Hiking Alaska – St. Elias National Park

St. Elias National Park - AlaskaOkay, so last time I took you to Hawaii, for a wonderful hike up Mauna Kea.  Today, lets go to the other extreme in the US, to Alaska.  There is quite a lot of public land set aside for us to enjoy in Alaska.  Mount McKinley and Denali national park come to mind.  But, there are many other lesser known parks as well.

Tony Maniscalco talks about one of these parks, St. Elais National Park.  It’s bigger than Yellowstone!
Walking USA – Hiking Alaska’s National Parks

By Tony Maniscalco

When it comes to exciting and adventurous walking, USA holidays are hard to beat. The sheer variety of scenery and the stunning natural landscapes make for an ideal choice of holiday. However, if you want to head to a national park, why not avoid the more famous names and head to one of the lesser-known parks, like Wrangle – St. Elias National Park in Alaska.

A Wild Adventure

Wrangle – St. Elias National Park is the biggest national park in the whole of the USA, at 20,587 square miles. To put it in perspective, that’s nearly six times bigger than Yellowstone. That’s a lot of prime space for walking! USA parks are mostly well known, but this vast wilderness is not visited half as much as other national parks in the country, making it ideal for those who want to enjoy thousands of square miles of emptiness all to themselves.

If you head here you’ll find over 150 glaciers including the spectacular Hubbard Glacier, and some of the tallest mountains in North America – including Mount St. Elias, the second highest mountain in both the USA and Canada. It also contains nine of the highest 16 peaks in the USA, so as you can imagine this is some serious terrain.

As well as walking, USA parks like Wrangle – St. Elias also offer a wide variety of other activities, including kayaking, rock climbing and rafting. But for many, the excellent walking is the main draw.

Easy Access

Despite its remoteness, Wrangle – St. Elias National Park remains relatively easy to access. This means that hikers can visit without too many difficulties and still enjoy vast swathes of emptiness. There are also no fees, making this one of the more affordable national parks in the country to visit.

Prepare Yourself

As is the case with any type of holiday that involves walking, USA holidaymakers need to make good preparations if they want to have an enjoyable time. Due to its vast size and remoteness, many of the hiking trails in the park are not maintained, and this could make the going tough if you are not fit and prepared for the challenge. You will not find paved and signposted trails, and it will be essential that someone in the party is able to read a map and compass. The park also experiences extreme variations in weather in very short time periods, making it essential to dress accordingly, with layered clothing, the ideal option.

Getting There

Wrangle – St. Elias National Park is remote, so you won’t want to make this just a day trip. It will take you about a day to drive from Anchorage to the town of Nabesna from where you can start hiking. Alternatively, you could opt for a charter plane to arrive much quicker.

Experience the Wild

Wrangle – St. Elias National Park is an absolute treat for anyone with a love of walking. USA national parks provide the perfect setting for an ideal holiday, and if you want to experience true wilderness then this is the park for you. For the best experience head here in the summer from May to September.

Tony Maniscalco is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. They offer over 250 guided group walking holidays in over 65 different countries. Join our walking USA tours with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, and you will see scenic locations & landscapes at the best value prices.

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I have been to Alaska one time and I can’t wait to go back.  When you have been there, you will want to come back.  It is one of those places that will always stay with you.  I will make sure and make a stop at St. Elias National Park the next time I am there.

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