This primitive camping area has no amenities. It is reached via foot travel only. Water is available from nearby streams (it should be treated before drinking) and there are bear boxes for storing food.
Like other national parks in Alaska that we encountered, there is often an expensive route and a very affordable route for exploring the park. Wrangell-St. Elias was no exception. While plenty of visitors stayed in the lodge, or in nearby McCarthy, we opted for the free Jumbo Creek Campground, only 1.5 miles from the heart of the park in Kennicott, Alaska.
Camping here requires a 1.5 trek to and from your site everyday, but if you can get past that, your time here will be unforgettable. Our site here provided possibly the best view we ever had while camping all across the U.S. last year.
At the “campground” -- a flexible term for an array of flat areas around the trail where you can find a place to camp -- is a bear box, and that’s about it. But it’s free, so what can you do?
We found the perfect place to pitch our tent, but we cooked a ways down the trail to take every precaution against bears in the area. We didn’t see any during our time here.
Hiking in and out of the campsite each day was a bit of a chore, but it was worth it to access some amazing hiking: we loved the hike to Bonanza Mine and out the other direction to Root Glacier (where we strapped on crampons with our guided tour.)
We also enjoyed hearing about the history of Kennicott from rangers in the many available ranger tours.
You can read much more about our three days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Wrangell-St. Elias)