Iceberg Lake Basecamp

A Land of Ice and Rock. Mountains and Glaciers. And You.

  • Return travel Anchorage - McCarthy, AK
  • 2 nights accommodation in McCarthy, AK
  • 2 bush flights deep into the Chugach Mountains
  • Camping near Iceberg Lake
  • Glaciers, mountains, bears and wilderness
  • Outstanding views in all directions

This basecamp trip is the consummate Alaskan adventure. Impressive vistas at every turn and mile after mile of open, pristine wilderness.

We fly in from McCarthy, Alaska, landing on the edge of Iceberg Lake. This is the southern range of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

You’ll spend a few days here hiking the area, discovering the geological wonders that have created this fascinating region. Watch as chunks of the glacier calve into the lake, the ice floes groaning and creaking as they shift and turn across the water.

Hike through some fantastic country. Every time I arrive here I’m reminded of my bush pilot’s words when he dropped me off for my first visit to this place; “Welcome to Antarctica”.

It’s a pretty unique and amazing region at the eastern end of the Chugach Mountains. Massive jagged peaks surround you, along with endless glaciers and an ever-changing landscape. Cool clear alpine lakes, fresh rushing streams and snow capped peaks sparkle in the Alaskan sun.

The Hiking

This basecamp and hiking trip is a little more difficult than some of the other basecamp trips. The hiking here is a little more challenging with a lot of rock and boulder walking. Glacial moraine requires a little better balance and attention than walking on tundra. Hiking poles (provided) will help you enormously.

That said, there are a number of hiking opportunities here that allow us to wander almost infinitely in any direction.

Trip Options

This trip has a few different options.

We can camp right by the landing strip, but it’s really better to be a little more flexible, and move camp up the valley a mile or 2. From there we can dayhike north, west, south, east and other other direction we’d like.

Perhaps the best way to experience this area is with a backpacking loop, moving camp once or twice over a 5 day trip. This type of trip works well for people interested in either an easier backpacking trip or a moderate dayhiking trip (for those of you who’d rather basecamp).

Alaska camping trips Iceberg lake Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Camping and hiking trip in Alaska Hikers view an alpine tarn near Iceberg Lake, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the campsites in this area – superb! We camp in some of the prettiest spots in the park, if not Alaska.

Alpine lakes, crystal clear mountain streams and magnificent mountain passes with stunning views all around make this trip a favorite.

A few of the peaks nearby are worth the scramble if you’re up for the challenge.

Trip FAQs

  • Most of the terrain here isn’t too terribly strenuous, particularly if you’re not carrying a full backpack.

    There’ll be rocks galore, at times, we’ll be walking over, and that’s a little challenging at times.

    No strenuous vertical gain/loss though.

  • Well, that’s a little bit dependent on the situation and the group itself. It can depend who’s already camped in an area, etc., as well.

    Sometimes we camp within 1/4 mile of the strip, other times a mile or so.

    If you’re up for it, we can camp, hike, move camp, hike, and move camp back to the strip again. It’s pretty flexible.

  • We’ll be surrounded largely by glaciers and rocks and mountains and ice cold water. It’s relatively new landscape here, with only (relatively) recent glacial retreat.

    That means it’s still not rich, productive soil, so the food source for most wildlife is low. Animals like to be where they can easily access good food sources.

    That said, we usually see grizzly bears somewhere in the area, and have seen wolverine as well. Arctic ground squirrels are common.

    Ptarmigan (willow and white-tailed) are common as well.

  • Not bad at all. It’s colder country, with so much ice nearby and the bugs aren’t ever too bad here at all.

  • Oh yeah. Right here

    Upon your reservation I’ll also send out a detailed Trip Information Packet with more than enough information on gear to keep you busy. Until then the above check list is a good outline of what you need.

  • You sure can.

    Fully outfitting your trip is $250.00 per person, with group discount available. For single individual items, contact me and we’ll see what you need and work that out. A tent (1 or 2 person) is $200.00 per person for the trip. If you just want us to handle food, and have all your own gear (tent, etc) that’s $225.00 per person.

  • All multi-day trips (backpacking, basecamping, packrafting, photo tours) out of McCarthy include transport to/from Anchorage/McCarthy, 2 nights accommodations in McCarthy, air taxi flights McCarthy/The Backcountry, group gear such as cook tents, fuel, BRFCs, bear spray, etc. Hiking poles are included if you don’t have your own.

    We include a satellite phone for emergencies and one backup emergency contact device, such as PLB or Garmin InReach. First aid kits, map and compass included. All guides are Wilderness First Responder Certified.

    Storage of your overnight travel gear is limited but available (keep it small).

    Outfitting of equipment such as tents is available. Expeditions Alaska can either fully outfit your trip (all food, tents, etc) or adjust things a la carte if needed.

    Guide gratuities are not included but most appreciated.

    We do NOT cover the cost of your travel meals, such as meals along the road to/from McCarthy, or in McCarthy pre/post your backpacking trip.

    Trip insurance is not included. I strongly urge you to purchase it on your own. Our recommendation is Travelex.

    For a full outline of What’s included/not included, please see this page.

  • That is trip dependent.

    For backpacking trips, a fully outfitted option includes your tent (one or two person tent), all your kitchenware, food and cooking by Expeditions Alaska. A typical trip, up to 12 days long, costs an additional $450.00 per person for the fully outfitted option ($350 for 4 day trips or shorter).

    Available “á la carte” options are (per person)

    Tent $50.00/tent
    Food/cooking $325.00 (up to 4 day trip duration)
    Food/cooking $425 (any trip 5 days or longer)

    For personal items such as a backpack, or sleeping pad, talk to me prior to your trip and we’ll see if we can possibly arrange something. If you need a pack I recommend you rent a backpack from a reputable local outfitter. They can find and fit a pack to you rather than “making do” with one of mine that may or may not be a good fit for you.

    Items such as BRFC, bear spray, fuel, hiking poles are included gratis with Expeditions Alaska trips. See What’s Included? for more info.

  • Very briefly

    Day 1 – We pick you up and drive to McCarthy, overnight there, and fly in to the backcountry the next morning. … hike … 2nd Last day – We fly back to McCarthy, overnight there.

    Last Day – We take you back to Anchorage and drop you at your hotel.

    For a much more comprehensive outline and schedule of this, see this page

  • 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.

Trip Logistics

We travel from Anchorage to McCarthy, overnight in McCarthy and then fly in to the backcountry.

A week in the Iceberg Lake area and we fly back to McCarthy, shower, 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 amidst the leftovers of this ghost town.

We spend the night in McCarthy and travel back to Anchorage on the final day.

Where Are We?

Trip Itinerary

Basecamp trips tend to be pretty loose. The travel and logistics part of the trip are standard enough, and you can read those details here.

The in-between days are flexible. We can camp near the lake and dayhike from there, or we can backpack a few miles away and camp there. Or a bit of either.

The day hikes around the area are similarly flexible. One day for sure we’ll get out on the ice and explore the nearby glacier. You might also like venturing to the southern end of the lake and overseeing the edges of the immense Bagley Icefield.

Iceberg Lake is pretty good for 3-5 days backcountry time without too much exertion. Where we go on which days will depend on what your preferences and interests are.

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