Are you looking for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the American West? Look no further than Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, where you can explore stunning landscapes, encounter diverse wildlife, and learn about the area’s rich history.
History and Background
A Rich and Colorful Past
While the history of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park officially began in 1978, the area has a rich and colorful past that dates back centuries.
The park’s location in the heart of the American West meant that it was inhabited by several Native American tribes long before the arrival of European settlers. The Paiute, Shoshone, and Ute tribes all called this land home and used it for hunting, fishing, and gathering.
In the late 1800s, European settlers began to arrive in the area, drawn by the promise of free land offered by the Homestead Act of 1862. These settlers established ranches and farms, and the area became known for its cattle and sheep ranching.
Wrangell-St. Elias horses, the park’s namesake, have a fascinating history. These horses may be descendants of Spanish conquistadors’ domesticated horses from the 1500s. These horses interbred with wild mustangs and other breeds, creating the Wrangell-St. Elias horse.
The rugged and dramatic landscapes attracted Hollywood filmmakers in the 20th century. The area was used to film “The Lone Ranger” and “The Searchers.”
Protecting a National Treasure
As the park’s popularity grew, concerns about human activity on its natural and cultural resources grew. In 1978, the federal government created Wrangell-St. Elias National Park to preserve this national treasure.
The park has changed and improved since its founding. The National Park Service has restored and protected the park’s natural and cultural resources while making it accessible to international visitors.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is a shining example of how we can protect and preserve our natural and cultural heritage. At this unique and unforgettable destination, you can explore the park’s rich history, admire its stunning landscapes, or simply enjoy nature.
Things to Do and See
A Paradise for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Whether you’re an experienced adventurer or just looking for a fun day out with the family, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park offers something for everyone. Here are just a few of the top things to do and see at this incredible destination:
Hiking and Backpacking
With over 200 miles of trails, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is a paradise for hikers and backpackers. Whether you’re looking for a short, easy hike or a multi-day backpacking adventure, you’ll find plenty of options here. Some of the park’s most popular trails include the Tower Bridge Trail, the Rim Trail, and the Navajo Loop Trail.
If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be in paradise at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, and more. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a rare California condor or Mexican gray wolf. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera for some incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park has many scenic drives for car-lovers. The Grand Loop Road, a 142-mile loop through Yellowstone’s famous geysers and hot springs, is the park’s main scenic drive.
Fishing and Boating
If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to cast your line at the Park. The park is home to several rivers and lakes, including the Madison River, which is considered one of the best fly fishing destinations in the world. Boating is also a popular activity, with options for kayaking, canoeing, and motorized boating.
Cultural and Historic Sites
In addition to its natural wonders, It is also rich in cultural and historic sites. The park is home to several Native American sites, including the Bear Gulch Pictographs and the Madison Buffalo Jump. Visitors can also explore historic homesteads and ranches, such as the Wrangell-St. Elias Ranch and the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District.
Wildlife and Natural Environment
A Natural Wonderland
One of the most stunning things about Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is its natural environment. With an incredibly diverse range of landscapes, the park is home to some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Perhaps the most famous natural wonder at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is its geothermal features, including the iconic Old Faithful geyser. The park is home to over 10,000 geothermal features, including geysers, hot springs, and mud pots. Visitors can witness the incredible power of these geothermal wonders up close by taking a walk along the boardwalks that wind through the park’s geothermal areas.
Mountains and Canyons
While many visitors come to see its geothermal wonders, the park is also home to some incredible mountain ranges and canyons. The park’s highest peak, Eagle Peak, rises over 11,300 feet above sea level, offering incredible views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also explore the park’s many canyons, such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Lamar Valley.
Forests and Meadows
Beyond the geothermal areas, mountains, and canyons, It is also home to vast forests and meadows. The park’s forests are primarily made up of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees, while its meadows are home to a wide range of wildflowers and grasses. Visitors can explore these stunning landscapes on foot or by car, taking in the beauty of the park’s flora and fauna.
A Haven for Wildlife
In addition to its stunning natural landscapes, It is also home to an incredible array of wildlife. Here are just a few of the animals you might spot during your visit:
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is one of the few places in the world where you can see bison in their natural habitat. The park is home to one of the largest bison herds in the United States, with over 4,000 animals roaming the park’s grasslands.
Gray wolves were reintroduced to the National Park in the 1990s, and since then, they have thrived in the park’s wilderness areas. Visitors can sometimes catch a glimpse of these elusive animals, either on their own or as part of a guided wolf-watching tour.
Both black bears and grizzly bears call Wrangell-St. Elias National Park home, although they can be difficult to spot. Visitors are advised to exercise caution when hiking in bear country and to always carry bear spray.
Birdwatchers will be in paradise at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, which is home to over 300 species of birds. Some of the most sought-after species include the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the sandhill crane.
Practical Information for Visitors
- Getting There– Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming, and there are a few different ways to get there:
- By Car– One of the easiest ways to get to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is by car. The park is accessible via several major highways, including US-191, US-89, and US-20.
- By Air– The closest airport to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD), which is located in Cody, Wyoming. From there, visitors can rent a car or take a shuttle to the park.
- By Bus– Several companies offer bus tours to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, including Gray Line, Alltrans, and BrushBuck Wildlife Tours.
When to Go
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your interests. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Summer is the busiest time of year at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, with the most visitors and the most services available. The park is generally most accessible from mid-May through September, and this is also the best time of year for hiking, wildlife watching, and other outdoor activities.
Fall is a great time to visit the Park for those who want to avoid the crowds. The park is less crowded in the fall, and the autumn foliage is absolutely stunning. Wildlife watching is also good during this time of year, as the animals prepare for winter.
Winter is a magical time to visit the National Park, with the snow-covered landscapes creating a stunning winter wonderland. However, many of the park’s roads and facilities.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is truly a treasure of the American wilderness, offering visitors a chance to connect with nature and history in a truly unique way. From the stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife to the rich cultural heritage of the area, there’s so much to discover here. We hope that this guide has inspired you to plan your visit to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and has provided you with all the information you need to make your trip a success. So what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking boots and camera, and let’s explore the beauty of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park together!
READ MORE HERE: Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve