Jarvis Plateau

Hike the Highcountry. Face to face with a 13 000’ mountain.


  • 6 nights in the backcountry
  • Unparalleled mountain views
  • Very rarely hiked landscape
  • 2 nights accommodations
  • Easy, open terrain
  • Additional packrafting option
  • Relaxed, easy itinerary
  • Transport provided Anchorage - Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

The first time I visited the Jarvis Plateau I was awestruck. Stunning views of a stunning mountain. Stunning views in every direction.

A dump of fresh snow during that trip made the mountain glow in the morning light. Everything glistened. Imagine 13 000 feet of “glisten”. Pretty incredible.

The Jarvis Plateau and Tumble Creek area is a great place to explore some high alpine terrain in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. With simply incredible views of Mt. Jarvis this trip is really a great hike. With almost no other visitors in the entire summer this area is one of those all too rare opportunities to walk where few have trodden.

This is another great Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve trip. I run both backpacking trips and basecamp trips here. Either is a great choice.

We fly in to a landing strip near Mt Jarvis, an awesome 13 000′ high peak with an incredible sheer vertical wall. We land just north of the mountain within a few miles of the face. Weather permitting, this vista is amazing.

Hiking options abound

The plan is to hike around the Tumble Creek drainage, through Jacksina Creek and also explore the Jaeger Mesa. This trip includes a few small stream crossings so be prepared.

Jarvis Plateau is a great basecamp and dayhike trip. Wile away the hours, or days, and soak in the view. Or mosey down off the plateau in a very easy backpack to the Jackson River and a pickup there.

This trip, like so many others, offers an endless array of options. We can make the trip as short and easy or long and adventurous as you’d like. It’s possible to do a longer 8-10 day hike and link this up with the Tanada Peaks to the north or with Mt Gordon and the Jaeger Mesa to the south. The longer the hike the more hurdles like bigger river crossings are encountered. Longer hikes are more suitable for stronger and more experienced hikers.

Solitude

Rarely do hikers get up quite so close and personal with a really big mountain as you will with Mt. Jarvis on this trip. The eastern face of the mountain is simply magnificent. Stunning ice and snowfalls unceasingly crevassing and glaciating the mountain wall. It’s an incredibly dynamic face and not often people get to so vividly experience a mountain. Very few people venture up here and it’s incredibly rare to see even sign of other hikers.

We don’t do any “mountain climbing” here at all though. We’re not on crampons and ice axes. It’s easy hiking, walking over open tundra and rolling broad plains of the plateau. We’ll make our way eastward toward a junction with the Jacksina River where we’ll walk the riverbed and explore a little more of the lightly forested country there.

Note: this trip is on the north side of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, and we fly out of Nabesna, not McCarthy. It’s drastically different terrain and region to the southern and central part of the park, making it a great option for folks who’ve done of the other great hikes in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. See the sample itinerary linked below for more details.

Trip Highlights

The Camping

High, open, subalpine terrain. A tent needs to be sturdy and durable here.

There are a number of great sites for basecamping in the area. We can camp up by the face of Mt. Jarvis the duration of your stay, or we can move camp after a night or two down the ridge a little.

The Walking

Easy, open tundra to explore and wander. Or sit back and soak in the view.

The Views

It’s all about Mt Jarvis. Rising over 5000′ above the surrounding Wrangellia Plateau, Jarvis dominates everything. Two peaks (distinct enough to qualify as separate two “thirteeners”) and a jagged, ice covered vertical face make this view something to behold.

Turn 180 degrees and cast your eyes on a feast of endless hills and plateaus and valleys. The Wrangell Mountains slip away beneath you toward the eastern edge of the Alaska Range and on in to neighboring Canada beyond. You simply can’t see far enough here.

Biggest Challenges

Unless you’re choosing a packraft option to get back to Nabesna, nothing too challenging. The hiking is very doable even for novice backcountry travelers.

Obviously weather in the high country is always a possible mechanism of concern. It’s not uncommon to snow at 8000′ in Alaska during the summer.

Gear Requirements

Standard 3 season backpacking gear for Alaska.

Packrafting gear (if you choose that extension) will be provided and is flown in at the end of the hiking section. You will not have to carry packrafting gear. Contact me for a chat about packrafting Jackson River.

Trip Logistics

We travel from Anchorage to Nabesna, overnight in Nabesna and then fly in to the backcountry. One week up on the Plateau area, then an easy hike down to a landing strip for the pickup. We then fly back to Nabesna, shower and eat, and then enjoy the afternoon relaxing, or take a day hike on one of the trails in the area. We spend the night in Nabesna, and travel back to Anchorage on the final day. If conditions are good, we might leave early to catch dawn alpenglow on Mt. Sanford – always a treat!

Mount Jarvis was named in 1903 for Lt. David H. Jarvis of the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service, who led the Overland Relief Expedition to aid a whaling fleet trapped in Arctic Ocean ice off Point Barrow in 1897–98.

Where Are We?

Trip Itinerary

I put this itinerary online here to give visitors to the site a more detailed look at this trip and what options it might include. I can’t over-emphasize that this is simply an example.

What I work hardest on is tailoring trips to the specific interests and abilities and experience of the people who hike with us. No 2 trips are the same. Where possible, we don’t use the same campsites trip to trip. We often even vary the route.

I try to be flexible with how far we hike each day, how many days we spend in the backcountry. What time we get up in the morning, for example, is largely up to the trip participants (unless for some reason I feel we need to be up and on the trail by a particular time – this rarely happens).

Trip FAQs

  • Not generally.We’re high enough that we’re out of bug country, for the most part.

    On the other hand, if you choose a trip extension like packrafting down the Jacksina River to Nabesna, you’ll likely run into some mosquitoes en route, particularly July/early August.

  • Possibly Dall sheep. Maybe caribou. I’ve seen both those species up here. Grizzlies do venture up to this area, but not routinely. We sometimes see moose along the Nabesna Road as well.

    Small critters like arctic ground squirrel and marmots or pikas are likely as well. Red fox sometimes as well.

  • Nabesna doesn’t have quite the same tourist infrastructure set up as, say, McCarthy & Kennicott. Hence, it draws far fewer people. But the hiking here is really every bit as stunning and in some ways more amenable to a diverse and wider group of adventurers.

    Looking to really “get away” and find some solitude? The north side of the park (Nabesna side) is amazing. Looking to traverse some rugged and wild terrain with epic views of these really magnificent Wrangell Mountains? North side wins again!

  • There certainly is.

    Avoid the hassles of crying a heavy backpack. Travel to McCarthy, overnight, fly in to the backcountry, camp and explore the area via day hikes and packrafts (* option on some trips), fly back to McCarthy, overnight and return travel to Anchorage. Fully-outfitted or do it yourself. These trips are extremely flexible, wonderfully fun and a whole lot easier on your body than backpacking trip is.

    Looking for something “in-the-middle”? Sure, we can do that too. Fly in and out of the same location, and make a smaller backpacking loop or out and back, combining a few days camping and a few days of backpacking. Contact me via email or call 1-770-952-4549 and we’ll set it up.

  • I know you do. I do as well.

    I recommend starting with the General Trip FAQ page

    More questions? Email me or call me  and we’ll go through them.

    Upon your reservation I’ll also send out a comprehensive trip information packet that covers just about everything and more you might imagine about your trip.

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