McCarthy-Kennecott: Old School Charm with Attitude & Altitude!

McCarthy has been one of my favorite stops on this Alaskan journey. It’s way off the beaten path, so less visited by the tourist hordes, but full of Alaska personality and a rich history of copper mining. It’s also in the middle of the beautiful Wrangell-St Elias Wilderness which is home to 9 of the 16 highest peaks in N.A.!

Glaciers, mountains, lakes - McCarthy has everything!

Glaciers, mountains, lakes – McCarthy has everything!

The views in McCarthy just don't stop!

The views in McCarthy just don’t stop!

There are no cars in McCarthy. To access the town, you have to park the car and walk across a foot bridge over a river, then walk or take a shuttle another 1/2 mile to town. Almost all the buildings in town are original structures from the thriving days of mining in the early-mid 1900s. There are no services – just a few good restaurants and a saloon. What else do you need?

The footbridge to McCarthy

The footbridge to McCarthy

An old hardware store converted into a visitor center

An old hardware store converted into a visitor center

Downtown McCarthy

Downtown McCarthy

My favorite experience in McCarthy was ice climbing on the Root Glacier. What a trip! McCarthy is known for having the most accessible glaciers for ice climbing, and you can even climb down into a moulin – the gaps and caves created by glacial movement. We had an awesome guide, an awesome day, and easily one of my favorite experiences of the trip, even if I clearly do NOT have a future as a professional ice climber! It’s about getting out of your comfort zone, and we were way out of ours!

Yep - we did that!

Yep – we did that!

Kicking ass...I mean ice!

Kicking ass…I mean ice!

Just hanging out on a glacier...

Just hanging out on a glacier…

Look at this blue glacial lake!

Look at this blue glacial lake!

How beautiful is this glacier?

How beautiful is this glacier?

We also did an incredible Bonanza Mine Hike – 11 miles of hell (straight up and then straight down for 4,000+ feet), but it was worth it for the incredible views (at least I can say that now)!

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Another cool benefit of McCarthy is a visit to Kennecott which is 4.5 miles down the road from McCarthy, accessible via foot or shuttle bus. Kennecott is an old mining town – the Kennecott Copper Mine was one of the largest copper mines in the world in the 1920s. From 1911 to 1938 nearly $200M worth of copper was processed there! At 14 stories high, the mine is still the tallest wood structure in North America. If you close your eyes, you can almost still hear and feel the bustle of the machines and people during the mining heyday.

The Kennecott Copper Mine - 14 stories!

The Kennecott Copper Mine – 14 stories!

Kennecott

Kennecott

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If you come to Alaska, put McCarthy-Kennecott on your must-do list! This place “kicks ice”… 🙂

4 thoughts on “McCarthy-Kennecott: Old School Charm with Attitude & Altitude!

  1. We are loving everything about your Adventure!!! We’ve been to most of your stops and fished everywhere, but you guys rock!! And have taken it to a hole new level!!! Everyone should mold their trip after you guys!!! We would love to have you guys for dinner and some great wine when the time is right after your back and recouped from this incredible adventure? Be safe on the final stages of your trip!!! Rex and geri. ( ps. We met you guys at the beging
    stages of your trip)

  2. We are loving everything about your Adventure!!! We’ve been to most of your stops and fished everywhere, but you guys rock!! And have taken it to a whole new level!!! Everyone should mold their trip after you guys!!! We would love to have you guys for dinner and some great wine when the time is right after your back and recouped from this incredible adventure? Be safe on the final stages of your trip!!! Rex and geri. ( ps. We met you guys at the beginning
    stages of your trip)

  3. OMG, you are ice picking your way up a mountain. If it wasn’t official before, then it is now – you are a bad ass! Your comments are so funny. In the South, we used to make fun of rednecks with thick accents, because it sounded like they were saying, “I’m gonna kick your ice.” But look, you actually did! 🙂

    Love the glacier photos and copper mine photos too. Keep on having fun!

  4. Anywhere where there’s no Google Street View is seriously off the grid these days (heck it’s underwater now!). Street View goes to the parking lot (looks sketchy…) at the bridge. I love those old mining towns (only been to ones in Nevada). Also, having a real reason to strap on crampons is totally on my bucket list – seriously jealous (well, somehow more jealous than I’ve been to this point of your trip…). Keep posting!!

    David

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