Wrangell-St Elias and Tok Cut-Off Highway

We had a long and interesting drive today from Valdez to Tok Alaska. Most outstanding were the mountain vistas and the beginnings of leaf color change. This image was one of our favorites today.

This morning before we left Valdez a North Carolinian (from Hendersonville) struck up a conversation with me in the campground. He and his wife had visited several summers on church work missions. They decided they liked Alaska too much to return, despite how wonderful North Carolina is. He invited us to consider staying too. We’re not ready to stop full-timing yet, but Alaska is really nice.

google map of today’s drive

The 257 mile route was 99.99 percent paved and mostly smooth and easy driving. Shortly after leaving Valdez we climbed up Thompson Pass then followed Richardson Highway to the Wrangell – St Elias National Park Visitor’s Center. We followed a border of the Park for much of our drive, and then continued NE to Tok.

Ranger Caroline taught us about Wrangell-St Elias and permafrost. We stood on a bluff facing Mt Drum (12,010 feet) and Mt Wrangell (14,163). She dazzled us with a bunch of facts about the size of the National Park and Preserve, and the peaks and glaciers within.

Wrangell-St Elias contains fourteen of the United States’ nineteen highest mountain peaks, and is larger than nine of our states. 13,175,901 acres makes Wrangell St Elias Park and Preserve the largest managed area in the entire National Park system. Over 9,000,000 acres of the Park and Preserve is in the Wilderness area.

We spent very nice time in the Visitor’s Center perusing the exhibits and watched a 22 minute video in the theatre about this huge national park. The Center’s campus looks brand new, with five or six fresh-looking buildings. Ranger Caroline said she thinks it is around ten years old.

Our scenery from the road became better and better as we went along. The weather was superb, mostly sunny with a few very brief showers. This picture is a cool study in contrasts.

Sure, your trees change color in the fall. Everyone’s do. But do yours start before August 28, like these? The wooded mountains here are becoming colorful.

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4 responses to “Wrangell-St Elias and Tok Cut-Off Highway

  1. The Caravan is better than a quick ‘drive by’, but then again, you seem to be driving by so much! Is it overwhelming, or is the ‘whelming’ about right?

    • Richard,

      Not overwhelming at all. Much like the caravan we did with you two, there is as much as we want to take on and we set the boundaries ourselves. Several times we catch ourselves saying, we would stay longer here, or we would stay longer there. A caravan group, tho, moves together.

      The dreamstreamrs are known already for their credo, “we left something we’ll return to see.”

      • Hi Jimbo and Debbie, i always mean to check your blog but it doesn’t come through any regular notification sites for me. The mountains sound beautiful and yes, our leaves are changing color as well. A hike around Price Lake yesterday displayed evidence of an early fall. All is well here and I am enjoying (understatement) retirement. I, personally, pray that you don’t stay in Alaska. I would miss you terribly. Take care. Love to yous

      • Doe, We should have thought to see early fall in your beautiful area. Everyone makes such a big deal about leaf color after October 1st, but makes sense North Carolina’s mountains would have some early change too

        You can get notification of our new posts by entering your email (it is kept private) up at the top right corner of our blog page. You have two easy choices, both free and without trouble. Either receive email each time or use RSS and then choose your “reader”

        Jim & Deb http://dreamstreamr.com

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