Root Glacier Hike in Wrangell-St Elias
Worldwide Sales Manager, Erin, travelled to Wrangell-St Elias National Park in Alaska, to find out exactly what makes a root glacier hike an Alaska bucket-list essential.
The best way to travel into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is by air, which is exactly what I did in August this year. We enjoyed an incredibly scenic drive on the Richardson Highway from Valdez to Chitina, before boarding our flight to McCarthy. The flight is only 30 minutes-long, but every second offers a stunning sight. From vast canyons and glaciers over 20km long, to beautiful glacier-fed lakes and of course the enormity of the Wrangell–St. Elias mountain range – we had such perfect visibility on our flight. We could also see Mount Logan, which was 200km away in Canada!
Once we arrived in McCarthy we were collected by the excursion company and taken to the once-copper-mining boom-town, Kennicott. We had our orientation, collected our crampons and set-off on our way. The hike to get to the white ice of Root Glacier is 1.8 miles and I enjoyed gorgeous scenery along the way. I did this hike in early September and found myself cosseted by fireweed, wild rose and the beauty of the autumn colours.
As we edged closer, I noticed the air became cooler and vegetation around us had changed. We took a short break to appreciate the view from the edge of the ice and popped on our crampons ready for the next stage in our hike. To hike on the ice of a Glacier is something very special. I was lucky to see glacial waterfalls, ice walls 20 foot high and ‘moulins’ which are huge holes in a glacier, formed from melted ice. We enjoyed lunch right there on the ice, surrounded by the silence and beauty of Root Glacier.
The hike back was just as enjoyable, and ended with a tour of Kennicott’s historic copper mill. The mill is a staggering 14 stories-high, and we learned about the part each floor played in the extraction of copper from the ore as we made our way down from the top of the mill. We also learned about the lives of those who worked in the mill and the conditions they had to work and live in. It was a fascinating end to a fantastic day and I would highly recommend this trip!
Did you know, the town of Kennicott was named after Robert Kennicott, a naturalist who explored Alaska in the mid-1800s. A mistake was purpotedly made on some paperwork, when Kennecott Mining Company was formed, forever spelling it with an ‘e’. Today, all the natural features of the area still carry the original Kennicott spelling with an ‘i’, whilst man-made featured associated with the old mining ‘camp’ are spelt ‘Kennecott’.
You can experience the Root Glacier Hike and a visit to Kennicott on our Root Glacier Hike & Historic Kennicott excursion.
For help with planning a Root Glacier hike into your itinerary, enquire online or speak to our team help and advice.