Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Stretching from Canada’s Yukon Territory to the Pacific Ocean, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is part of the largest protected land mass on earth. Most people will never see it. You can be one of the few who discover an outpost of civilization and comfort 100 miles from the nearest road.


View Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in a larger map

In 1978, in combination with its Yukon neighbor Kluane National Park, the United Nations recognized Wrangell-St. Elias as part of an international World Heritage site…the first bi-national designation. Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia were added in 1993. Together, these four units include 24.3 million acres, one of the largest internationally protected ecosystems on the planet!

 

Frequently Asked Questions


What does it mean to be a World Heritage Site?
World Heritage Sites are “such outstanding universally recognized natural and cultural features that they attract the admiration and merit the protection of all people worldwide.” Wrangell-St. Elias and Glacier Bay National Parks, along with Kluane National Park and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in Canada, form a World Heritage Site containing 24.3 million acres, the largest internationally protected terrestrial area on the planet!

 

Where did the park get its name?
Wrangell-St. Elias is named for two of the mountain ranges that form its rugged backbone. The Wrangell Mountains were named after Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangel (1796-1870), who was a Russian Naval officer, arctic explorer, and government administrator. He was a governor of the Russian colonies in Alaska (1829-35), director of the Russian American company (1840-49), and minister of the navy (1855-57).

The St. Elias Mountains were named by explorer Vitus Bering (1681-1741). Bering was a Danish explorer in Russian employ that was selected in 1725 by Peter I to explore far NE Siberia. In 1728 Bering oversaw the exploration and mapping of the far reaches of Siberia and headed an expedition across the sea (which later was to bear his name) to Alaska. Bering sighted massive coastal mountains on July 16. The lofty summit of Mt. St. Elias was the first piece of Alaska mainland to catch Vitus Bering’s eye. That day was the feast day of the Saint Elias. The area where they made landfall was named for Elias. Eventually the mountain too came to be called Mount St. Elias.

 

When did Mt. Wrangell last erupt?
Eruptive activity has been noted in Mt. Wrangell in 1784, 1884-5, and 1900. On clear, cold, and calm days, steam plumes are often visible.

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Photo by Jim Harris.

Features

  • Nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the U.S.
  • Mount Blackburn (16,390 ft; 4995 m)
  • Mount Saint Elias (18,074 ft; 5488 m)
  • Kennecott historic mill building is the tallest wooden structure in North America
  • Mount Sanford (16,237 ft; 4949 m)
  • Mount Wrangell (14,163 ft; 4317 m)

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