Alaska's Copper River Valley - McCarthy & the old Kennecott Copper Mine

Alaskan Flightseeing Trip in McCarthy, Alaska

Experience the “Wow” Factor with an Alaskan Flightseeing Trip in McCarthy, Alaska

Going to Alaska on vacation could not be complete without experiencing the local history of its many small towns. I’ve always enjoyed learning about the history of Alaska and when I found out about a ghost town I could visit, I was hooked. I just had to make room on my vacation schedule!

In the early 1900s, a large deposit of copper ore was discovered. As a result of this discovery, a town called Kennicott was born. The town was named after a glacier, which in turn was named after an early explorer. The mining company that formed as a result of the copper was called Kennecott Mines Company.

Because of this mining boon, another town sprang up called McCarthy, just a few miles away from Kennicott. Railroads were built so that trains could make its way to the copper mines to bring out the ore to be processed. Unfortunately, as the prices for copper fell, the mining company could not stay competitive, so they closed in the late 1930s. The result was a virtual ghost town of both McCarthy and Kennicott.

Flash forward today and you will see both towns thriving thanks to the fascination with historic Alaska. I loved the fact that this area is situated in the largest and most scenic of national parks – the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I was looking for the scenic route during my Alaskan vacation and I definitely found it here!

Charter flight above the Chugach Mountains

A snapshot photo of the "Alaskan Wow Factor"

If you want jaw-dropping scenery, take an Alaskan flightseeing trip in McCarthy, Alaska. Thanks to the nearby glaciers and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, there is something to see at every turn. Fly through mountain passes and through deep gorges. It is almost impossible for me to describe how beautiful it is in Alaska. There is this “wow” factor that cannot be found anywhere else.

There are several ways you can get to the McCarthy-Kennicott area. Since I knew that I would be flightseeing when I arrived, I chose to drive the scenic route – over fifty miles of dirt road alone once you turn off one of the interstates! I highly recommend this choice over air travel, especially if you are a bit adventurous. You get to traverse over rivers and ravines, following the old mining railroad and cross the Kuskulana Bridge, Alaska’s highest bridge.

Once you get to your ghost town adventure stop, you can choose among several lodges and bed and breakfasts for your stay. A museum visit will give you plenty of historic background of the area. However, you will find, as I did, that the wilderness is by far the greatest draw. That is why flightseeing is so popular. Plus, it is one of the best ways to “see” everything.

I wanted to experience the wilderness first hand so I went on a guided hike as well as a raft trip. I missed a scheduled ice climb with one of the guides and was so disappointed I missed it that I tacked on an extra day to my itinerary just so I could experience it. If you do not have an adventurous bone in your body and all the untamed nature is not eye candy for you, you will likely not enjoy the experience. I had never climbed before, but there was a saying running through my mind, “When in Rome …”

I cannot emphasize enough that you must visit McCarthy and Kennicott on your Alaskan adventure. History buffs will enjoy it because of the ghost town and mining aspect and those with a heart for adventure will be in heaven, thanks to all of the outdoor activities available. If you are like me, both aspects will be appealing, resulting in a win-win situation!

Credit where credit is due

Articles above are from A Vistor's Guide to Kennicott & McCarthy, and are reprinted, in part, with permission of Kenyon Services.

A Visitor's Guide to Kennicott & McCarthy is published by Kenyon Services, McCarthy, PO Box MXY, Glennallen, Alaska 99588. Phone (907) 554-4454 or Email Copyright 1996. all rights reserved. The Guide is distributed free to area visitors. Single copy mail requests enclose $1.50 for postage. Publishers & Editors Rick & Bonnie Kenyon. Thanks to Ed LaChapelle for articles on Glaciers, Creeks & Rivers, How to be a Welcome Visitor, and How to use the trams.

Photographs: Agnes M. Hansen, Valdez, Alaska


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