About Wrangell - St. Elias National Park
the world’s largest protected wilderness
McCarthy and Kennecott
These frontier towns came to play a major role in Alaska's history just after the turn of the century. Copper was discovered on Bonanza Ridge and that finding led to the development of the famous Kennecott mines. The boom town of McCarthy sprung up 5 miles downhill and became the miners' recreation town with saloons, gambling, and a red-light district. In 1938 the Kennecott mines closed and left two ghost towns right in the middle of what was to become the largest and most spectacular national park in the United States.
Today, they offer visitors a unique Alaskan experience and make for an excellent jumping-off place for more extensive exploration of the wilderness backcountry. In McCarthy and Kennecott you'll find lodges, B&Bs and a range of guided activities including glacier hikes and river rafting. There are restaurants, gift shops, espresso, and gourmet ice cream for those warm summer days. A scheduled van service will take you the four miles (20 minute ride) from McCarthy up to Kennecott for only $5 per person, per way. Once there, swing into St-Elias Alpine Guide's office to book a two-hour guided tour of the 14 story mill building and historical town of Kennecott.