Wrangell - St. Elias: Wolverine Basecamp
Come basecamp on the the ridges high above the Chitistone Valley known as "Wolverine". Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is a magical place, and perhaps no place more so up here in the subalpine. This trip is simply incredible. This trip involves basecamping and exploring the high ridges, photographing the jaw-dropping scenery, the abundant wildlife, looking for the many fossils and other geologic wonders of the area and hiking the open tundra.
Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve is known for its amazing mountains, and few, if any, places in the park offer better views and a more complete backpacking experience with those mountains than Wolverine Ridge. The University Range sits literally across the river to the south, soaring up above the Chitistone River. The Wrangell Mountains, led by the magnificent 16 000' Mt Blackburn are over the ridge to the north, across the Nizina.
I also run guided trips backpacking around the butte, detouring to some of the side valleys to get a feel for this landscape. A third option is to combine this trip with the Chitistone Valley trip, backpacking from Skolai Pass, up over Chitistone Valley, over the "Goat Trail" and up on to Wolverine Ridge. A 4th option would involve backpacking down Doubtful Creek, to the landing strip by the Nizina River.
The hiking here is a mix of easy walking and some strenuous scrambling. The campsites available are second to none, and the views, under good weather, unparalleled. Wildlife abound, more so than most other places in Wrangell St Elias National Park: mountains goats, Dall sheep, grizzly and black bears, foxes and ground squirrels are often seen, and, true to the name of the area, wolverine can also be found here.
Wolverine is one of those places that offers a little of everything for everyone. Well, not a little, but a whole lot. We've done basecamp trips, camped near the landing strip, and photographed for a week or so, and had a great trip. We've also done a backpacking loop, a point to point trip to Skolai Pass, as well as a combination trip where we backpack a little, basecamp a little and travel easier.
One of the things that makes Wolverine a fascinating trip is the geology of the region; a rare mix of tectonic and volcanic action have created a number of amazing geological features, including geodes, fossils, diagenetic concretions and more - check out the photos. I should also perhaps mention the amazing Chitistone Canyon, Wolverine Butte, and the surrounding mountain ranges.
A short hike west from here takes us down Grotto Creek, a very cool little side trip. If we get an early start we can travel far enough to get a view of the amazing Mile High Cliffs above the Nizina river.
This is one of the most exciting basecamping trips we've put together in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and I'm keen to show clients this wonderful place. A popular route, great for families or less experienced folks, but also diverse enough for the adventurous experienced backcountry traveler, it usually fills quickly, so book early, as this trip will certainly fill up quickly.
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?
View Wolverine Ridge in a larger map