Here’s another image taken from Wrangell St. Elias National Park. This scene looks towards the park from the national Park boundary, the Copper River. Mt Drum and the Wrangell mountains oversee the immense Copper River Basin providing an incredible backdrop to this vastness. The Copper River is one of the largest rivers in Alaska, and also, like all large rivers, critical to the life and cultures of the ecosystems existing around it. The Copper River actually starts out on the east side of these mountains, on the Copper Glacier, which runs off Mt Wrangell. Mt Wrangell is visible in this photo as the broad almost flat snow-covered peak rising directly above the island in the river. As this scene is taken from the north west corner of the park, it’s clear the river wraps around the mountain, starting on the east side, running north then west, then eventually running south, forming the western border of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, all the way down through the Chugach Mountains, the Chugach National forest, forming the huge Copper River delta, and emptying into the Gulf of Alaska. The Copper River runs about 300 miles, or nearly 500 kilometers, from its beginnings in the Wrangell Mountains until it reaches the coast.
The Copper River has been important to people in the area for many years, for many reasons, but is primarily known today for the red salmon that run up it every summer to spawn. Copper River Reds, as they’re known, are widely regarded as some of the tastiest salmon in the world. They’re also known as Sockeye Salmon.And they sure are tasty!
The views towards the park from the Richardson Highway are as fine as they salmon that swim up the river are tasty. From various overlooks, it’s possible to see 4 mountains all standing over 12 000′ high, including 2 peaks over 16 000′ (Mt Sanford and Mt Wrangell). The Wrangell mountains are as impressive as any I’ve seen. Great photo opportunities can be found right off the highways (Richardson and also the Glen Highway), weather permitting, of course. These are all volcanic mountains, and have some dramatic features, Mt Drum, from the south side, is simply stunning.
Happy July 4th, America.