Wrangell - St. Elias National Park: Steamboat Hills trip
This is one of those guided hiking trips that offers something for everyone; a wonderful place to bring the family, relax, to watch the Dall sheep, and enjoy some of the most amazing views in Alaska. The rolling open tundra of the area makes for easy hiking, with lots of options for base-camping and making dayhikes, exploring the area, or backpacking from one landing strip to another. This guided tour has so many options and choices it's easy to spend up to 10 days here, hiking and backpacking the high alpine country. The terrain here is very easy to walk over, unlike some of the other more rugged areas of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a milder, yet still very remote, backcountry hiking experience.
Wildlife in the area include Dall sheep, with ewes and lambs often along the open country, and small bands of full-curl horned rams found climbing the steep ridges to the north. Ground squirrels are common in the area, as are picas, small, rabbit-like mammals frequenting the rocky screes slopes along the ridges. Many birds nest in the area; Semipalmated and Golden Plovers, Tattlers, and other small migratory birds. Raptors such as Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagles are often seen soaring the skies above.
A number of clear and deep lakes in this open country make great swimming holes, a refreshing stop at lunch or when the weather is warm. The cool water is also nice to jump into after a couple of days in the backcountry, cleaning off the dirt and sweat from several days hiking.
Above these lakes, the ridges offer unbelievable views of some of the biggest and most impressive mountains in North America. Mt Blackburn (16 000'), Logan (19 000'), St. Elias (18 000'), Churchill (15 000'), Bona (16 000') and Sanford (15 000') are all visible from the high country here, if the weather remains clear. There's simply no better place in all of the park to see each of these grand mountains. The views extending across some of the broad open glacial formed valleys of the Tana, Chitina, Nizina and Chitistone Rivers are truly breathtaking, and help impart some sense of scale as to just how enormous the backcountry here is.
Part of what makes this area so nice is the easy walking. The terrain is almost entirely open tundra; there's no alder thickets or willow patches to struggle through, no fields of boulders strewn along the way that you must carefully traverse, or slippery icefields and glaciers to negotiate. The rolling open tundra of the ridgelines are a great place for a more moderate walk, and especially great for a family trek or for those otherwise less adventurous souls; those for whom the idea of a great hike doesn't involve wondering why the miles are measured in hours.
It's also a great place for a photo trip, with a basecamp and dayhikes to explore the landscape and look for interesting compositions, or stalk the wary Dall sheep rams that frequent the area. I saw possibly the biggest ram I've ever seen in my life up on this ridge a few years ago.
Steamboat Hills are a small range of rolling hills that few people visit. The area is very remote, accessible only via a small bush plane. We'll fly out of McCarthy, enjoy a short flight over the forested lowlands of Wrangell-St. Elias NP, land high on an open ridge, and spend 6 days with your guide, hiking, camping, backpacking and exploring the many sights and opportunities offered in this amazing place. If the weather holds, you'll find no better place to enjoy a game of Alpine tundra frisbee, with a backdrop better than you could ever imagine. Book this one early!
We travel from Anchorage to McCarthy, overnight in McCarthy and then fly in to the backcountry. A week in the Skolai Pass area and we fly back to McCarthy, show and eat, and then enjoy the afternoon relaxing in the slow-paced rustic town of McCarthy, or venture up to Kennicott and look at the historic copper mine Mill buildings and leftovers of this ghost town. We spend the night in McCarthy, and travel back to Anchorage on the final day.
Where are we?
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