Historic Kennicott Mine near the Kennicott Glacier Lodge.

McCarthy & Kennicott Alaska

Take a step back in time within Alaska’s largest national park.

Explore Root Glacier by foot near the Kennicott Glacier Lodge.

McCarthy & Kennicott Alaska

Take a step back in time within Alaska’s largest national park.

Kennicott Glacier Lodge sits among picturesque mountains.

McCarthy & Kennicott Alaska

Take a step back in time within Alaska’s largest national park.

McCarthy & Kennicott

Deep within the wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park sits the tiny community of McCarthy and its nearest neighbor, the abandoned Kennecott copper mine. Though humbler now, with McCarthy occasionally called a ghost town despite a few dozen plucky locals who call it home year-round, the area was once the site of a bustling mining epicenter that processed upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of copper.

The area's copper was long utilized by local Athabascans, but it wasn't until 1900 that those riches became known to the wider world. What followed was a feat of engineering and determination. Mines were dug thousands of feet up steep mountainsides, tramlines installed, support buildings constructed, and a railroad built over hundreds of miles of harsh backcountry to get the copper to steamships on the coast. And then, after 27 years of productivity, it all abruptly closed in 1938.

Today McCarthy and Kennecott provide a rich experience worthy of the long trip in. Using the local Kennicott Glacier Lodge as a home base, there's much to do. Visit McCarthy's few eateries and watering holes, explore the rust-red buildings within what's now the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, or take a guided history and glacier hike with a local tour operator.

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McCarthy is reachable by car. It's just over 300 miles from Anchorage, with the drive time dependent on road conditions. Many guests opt to stay overnight in Copper Center in order to take a full day to drive the remaining 112 miles, 60 of which are on the gravel McCarthy Road. That road ends at the Kennecott River where visitors can walk about 15 minutes across a footbridge and into town or take one of the scheduled summer shuttles. Shuttles also run to the Kennecott mine site, which is about 4.5 miles from McCarthy.

The McCarthy Road roughly follows the path of the railroad that once linked McCarthy to the coast at Cordova. Although it has seen moderate improvement in the past several years, most rental car companies do not allow their vehicles on the road. In order to drive it, you'll have to book a 4x4 rental car. Alaska Tour & Travel can coordinate those reservations, plus book lodging in Copper Center and McCarthy, and area activities. We also offer several off-the-beaten-path travel packages that can be customized to accommodate a McCarthy side trip.

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McCarthy & Kennicott Alaska