Alaska’s Nabesna Road, an infrequently traveled dirt road accessed from the Tok Cut-Off of the Glenn Highway, brings travelers to the northern reaches of Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve. The 40-mile long road, originally constructed in 1933 to provide access to the Nabesna Gold Mine, is scattered with points of historical interest such as the Slana Roadhouse, originally built in 1912 to serve travelers on the trail to Chisana, the site of Alaska’s final gold rush, or the Slana Settlement, a vast acreage that the federal government distributed to homesteaders in the early 1980s (providing one of the last opportunities for homesteading on federal land). A few public use cabins managed by the National Park Service can be found along the road, as well as the Kendensii Campground and a scattering of rest areas with scenic vistas.
The drive is an adventure that offers breathtaking views of the Wrangell, Mentasta, and Nutzotin Mountains and many opportunities to see wildlife from dall sheep to to moose to caribou. Travelers will also find hiking trails, lakes, rivers, and fascinating geological formations – but all must come prepared. The road is maintained (up to mile 42), but the road conditions are unpredictable and subject to flooding. Certain areas may only be passable with 4-wheel drive, and travelers do run the risk of getting caught on the “wrong side” of an overflow. Before making a journey down the Nabesna Road, travelers should visit the Slana Ranger Station (at mile 0.2 of the road) to inquire about road conditions. Don’t miss the Alaska Geographic Bookstore inside the Ranger Station!
Check out the National Park Service’s Nabesna Road Guide: http://www.nps.gov/wrst/learn/nature/nabesna-road-guide.htm
Contact Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve for more info:
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Copper Center, AK 99573
907-822-7253 (cabin reservation line)