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Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
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You have to see Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and Preserve to believe it - and even then you are not too sure. The number and scale of everything is so enormous. The total acreage makes this the largest U.S. national park, the size of six Yellowstones. Four major mountain ranges meet here, and includes 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. The high country is covered with snow year round, resulting in extensive icefields and glaciers. The Bagley Icefield is the largest subpolar icefield in North America. Together, Wrangell-St. Elias and the adjoining Kluane National Park in Canada form the premier mountain wilderness in North America.

Although the vegetation may seem sparse, especially in the interior, the park contains a variety of wildlife. Dall sheep and mountain goats patrol the craggy peaks. Herds of caribou feed on the lichen and low woody plants around the Wrangells. Moose browse in sloughs and bogs in the coastal lowlands and in brushy areas, which also attract brown/grizzly bears. Black bears roam throughout the park. Many rivers, streams and lakes provide spawning grounds for salmon and other fish. The Copper River drainage and the Malaspina forelands are major flyways for migratory birds and include prime nesting sites for trumpeter swans.

Hike into these mountains, float the rivers, ski across the glaciers, fly over the area, and see geology in the making. Amid the splendid isolation comes a feeling of discovery, a feeling that you might be the first person to see such sights. Two roads lead into the park, one from the west ending at McCarthy, and one from the north, ending at Nabesna. These are the main visitor jumping off points for hiking, flightseeing, fishing, hunting, and other recreation.

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