Park Week Features: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park

Did you know that Wrangell-St Elias National Park is six times bigger than Yellowstone? At 13.2 million acres, America’s largest national park is HUGE! Four major mountain ranges converge in this wilderness, and the park boasts peaks up to 18,000 feet tall. Wrangell is also home to the country’s largest glacier system (35% of the park is glacier!), and North America’s biggest tidewater glacier, the Hubbard Glacier.


Despite the harsh environment, the park is home to 54 species of mammals, including moose, bear, and the threatened Stellar sea lion. Wrangell is a popular place for migratory birds and over 230 kinds of birds make their seasonal home there. Come winter, only 34 species remain to tough out the cold weather.


Four Alaska Native groups have historically called the land home; the Ahtna and Upper Tanana Athabascans lived inland, while the Tlingit and Eyak lived on the coast. There is evidence of caribou hunters visiting lakes fifty miles from the park over 8,000 years ago, and as the glacial ice retreated, people began entering the Wrangell Mountains. The Cooper River Basin itself has been occupied continuously for over 1,000 years, and today the Ahtna, Upper Tanana, Eyak and Tlingit live in or near many of the same villages they did historically and continue to pursue traditional subsistence activities in the park. 


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