Travel to McCarthy
McCarthy is an approximate 7-hour drive from Anchorage or Fairbanks. The landscape is striking, and there are many photographic opportunities along the way. From Chitina, you will travel the last 60 miles on the McCarthy Road, an unpaved road that follows the rail-bed of the defunct Copper River & Northwestern Railway.
For those looking to cut back on road time and enjoy a higher scenic view, we recommend driving to Chitina and taking a 45-minute flight to McCarthy with Wrangell Mountain Air. It is also possible to be a passenger on the mail plane (Copper Valley Air) or charter a flight from elsewhere in Alaska.
The Alaska Marine Highway Service operates numerous ferries that travel across the iconic Prince William Sound. You can connect Wrangell-St. Elias and the Kenai Peninsula through Valdez in the east and Whittier in the west. Book your ferry trip in advance to ensure availability and proper coordination with your itinerary.
The McCarthy Road ends at the west bank of the Kennicott River. Both McCarthy and Kennecott communities rest beyond a pedestrian footbridge; you will leave your car at the public parking area (for a small fee). There are scheduled shuttles that travel between the footbridge, McCarthy, the McCarthy Airstrip, and Kennecott. We recommend packing your gear in an easy-to- carry manner.
Accommodations and Meals
Primitive camping is available at no cost to workshop participants at a site located just a short walk away from the WMC. Campers are welcome to use the rustic shower and other facilities at the Hardware Store, store gear, and borrow bear barrels, as supplies are available. WMC staff will direct and orient you to the campsite upon your arrival. Bears are present in McCarthy, and close adherence to responsible camping practices is expected.
Other lodging options within McCarthy include the full service McCarthy Lodge and Lancaster's Backpacker Hotel, both located nearby to the Hardware Store. The Kennicott River Lodge and Hostel is another alternative that is a short bicycle ride or 20-minute walk each way. Currant Ridge Cabins is situated on the McCarthy Road about 3 miles from the road’s end/parking area; it’s about a ½ mile walk from the parking area, across the river, to the Hardware Store. Free shuttles run between the river and McCarthy on a limited-hour rotation. Two commercial campgrounds near the end of the McCarthy Road will accommodate campers without advance reservations.
Meals & Resources
Tasty homemade meals (largely vegetarian) are provided for participants in most workshops. Our diet is based primarily on our garden produce, homemade bread/baked goods, and organic grains, seeds, and beans. Every effort will be made to accommodate dietary restrictions with advance notice. Our kitchen facility is not designed for people with potentially fatal nut allergies, but we could likely strategize a solution that would allow for full participation in programs. Workshop participants may be invited to contribute to chores connected with our organic garden or meal set-up/clean- up in keeping with the WMC’s commitment to cooperative living and sustainable systems.
The Hardware Store has filtered, cold running water and an outdoor, wood-fired hot water heater (Ernestine). There are two outhouses and an outdoor bucket-style shower. Laundry can be done in buckets, but there are no other laundry facilities available in McCarthy. Wood stoves provide our heat, and our electricity comes from solar panels supplemented by a generator if necessary. Electronics can be charged on a limited basis. Life at the Hardware Store is rich and abundant in many ways, but we must practice simple habits in our usage that conserve fuel and water.
There is no advanced medical care available in McCarthy. Even minor medical needs may require prolonged, difficult, and expensive transportation to the nearest medical facility. Please bring extra prescription medicine with you and take extra precautions for your health and safety.
- Copper Oar: (rafting) 907-554-4453
- Copper Valley Air: (mail plane travel) 907-822-4200
- Kennicott Wilderness Guides: (glacier tours, ice climbing, backcountry trips, mountaineering) 907-554-4444
- McCarthy Air: (flightseeing and backcountry drop-offs) 907-554-4440
- McCarthy-Kennicott Historic Museum: (located in McCarthy)
- McCarthy River Tours and Outfitters: (rafting) 907-554-1047
- St. Elias Alpine Guides (SEAG): (mill tours, glacier tours, ice climbing, backcountry trips, mountaineering) 907-554-4445
- Trek Alaska: (backcountry trips) 907-554-4554
- Wrangell Mountain Air: (flightseeing, backcountry drop-offs, van shuttles to Kennecott) 907-554-4411
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve Visitor Center: (located in Kennecott) 907-822-7476
- Glacier View Campground: (located on the McCarthy Road; hot showers, burgers, pizza, beer and wine) 907-243-6677
- Kennicott Glacier Lodge: (located in Kennecott; full-service dining, breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer and wine) 907-258-2350
- McCarthy Center: (located in McCarthy; small general store)
- McCarthy Lodge: (located in McCarthy; fine dining) 907-554-4402
- The New Golden Saloon: (located in McCarthy; restaurant and bar; occasional live music)
- Nugget Liquors: (located in McCarthy)
- The Potato: (located in McCarthy; specialty coffee drinks, burritos, sandwiches, burgers, fries)
Let us know if you have questions. We look forward to welcoming you to the Wrangell Mountains Center!