Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is located in the Eastern region of Southcentral Alaska. It is bordered on the east by Canada's Kluane National Park and easily accessible by air, or if driving, by road via the Edgerton Highway and McCarthy Road.
Six times the size of Yellowstone National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias encompasses 20,000 square miles of mountain wilderness. It includes nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the US, the largest concentration of mountains over 14,000 feet in North America and is home to the largest glacier system in the US. Mt. Logan (19,850'), Canada's highest peak and the second highest peak in North America, is just thirty minutes by air from McCarthy at the eastern end of the Bagley Icefield. It is a land of uncommon beauty, and one of the least visited National Parks in the country.
The region has long been known for it's favorable weather. Summers in the Park are often warm and sunny, with temperatures reaching 80+ degrees in July and August. Rainfall is sparse, just 11 to 14 inches per year. The combination of ease of access, incredible natural beauty and great summer weather make Wrangell-St. Elias National Park a great destination for your Alaskan itinerary.
Temperatures during the summer in most of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park are mild and pleasant with daytime temps in the upper 60s for most of the summer. Mid summer usually brings temperatures in the low to mid 70s though a heat wave in the 80s is possible but usually lasts only a few days. Nighttime temperatures around the McCarthy area are generally in the low to upper 40s range. By mid August things begin to cool down a bit and by the end of August or beginning of September freezing temperatures at night are possible. Temperatures in the backcountry will be a bit cooler than in McCarthy especially if you're travelling in the glaciated southern area of the park. Glaciers, not surprisingly, have a chilling effect. You will usually notice a marked drop in temperature when walking on or near a glacier.
The amount of rainfall generally increases in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park as the Alaskan summer wears on, especially from mid August into September. By mid September the precip can start to change to snow, though snowfall is possible at higher elevations at any time of year. It's common to see a dusting of snow above 6000 feet starting in August. In September snow accumulation of several inches is possible at 5000 feet and lower. Mid September is about the latest you would want to schedule a pickup in the backcountry of the park. Pilots are very cautious when scheduling late season backcountry flights in Wrangell-St. Elias and will avoid higher elevation airstrips.
Weather varies widely across the huge state of Alaska. The following is a chart showing average weather stats for the McCarthy region of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Avg High °F
|Avg Low °F||-14.9||-7.5||0.6||17.7||29.7||38.5||42.8||38.6||29.9||17.4||-2.7||-11.0||15.0|
|Avg Precip (in)||0.74||0.99||0.50||0.28||0.49||1.26||1.76||1.27||1.24||1.31||1.29||1.23||12.37|
|Avg Snowfall (in)||8.6||10.0||5.9||2.9||0.6||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.8||9.8||12.6||12.6||63.8|
|Avg Snow Depth (in)||17.0||21.0||21.0||15.0||1.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||2.0||8.0||14.0||8.0|