Dynamic Landscape

The landscape of Wrangell-St. Elias is continually changing. Glaciers recede, landslides re-arrange mountainsides, and also rivers flood. Exterior resources, such as guide books, room a good starting ar to plan your trip, but don’t i think these sources are correct. Overview books, blog posts, and maps that are just a few years old may no longer reflect what is in reality on the ground. Always pay careful attention when navigating a route and never unquestioningly monitor maps, GPS gadgets or advice.Conditions can readjust rapidly in the mountains. Be ready for varying weather and trail conditions. This is a dynamic see that alters without warning. You might find missing foot bridges, uneven trace surfaces, stormy slopes, fall trees, rutted trails, damaged water bars and steps, standing water, difficult water crossings, and lacking directional signs might be encountered. Most of Wrangell-St. Elias nationwide Park and also Preserve is designated wilderness or remote, whereby self-reliance and also adventure space expected. Visitors need to be all set to take duty for their own actions; search and also rescue might be delayed. Be prepared to stay overnight even if you are a day user. Course finding an abilities may be required. Lug a map and also compass and also other backcountry travel essentials. Hike in ~ your very own risk.

You are watching: Cross the stream where it is shallowest


The landscape of Wrangell-St. Elias national Park & maintain is extreme. Flow crossings, glacier travel, thick brush, extreme weather (cold and hot), rock fall, mudslides, avalanches and also bugs are simply some of the dangers to be aware of. In addition, remember that bear security is vital part that backcountry safety.

Backcountry Accountability & Emergency Contacts

Leave her route and also expected time that return with a girlfriend or family member, together with directions for what to execute if you execute not return in ~ the supposed time. A search will certainly not be initiated till a certain request indigenous a friend or family members member is made. If you space flying in or the end of a far airstrip, your pilot will certainly be your main interaction link come safety. Be certain to talk about "what if" scenarios with your pilot prior to you are dropped off.To report a life and safety emergency in the park, speak to 907-683-2276. Do NOT call this emergency number because that park info or trip planning questions.

Consider her Experience

There are no preserved trails in the Wrangell-St. Elias backcountry. To enhance your experience, honestly evaluate the following questions.

Can you review a topographic map?

Have girlfriend hiked off-trail before?

Have you camped in complicated weather (such together snow, high winds, and heavy rain)?

After thinking about these questions, you might want to take into consideration hiring a overview to assist you experience all that the park has to offer.

Satellite Communications

Satellite phones and also texting tools are the only way to interact from the backcountry of Wrangell-St. Elias. We recommend pass a satellite interaction device, as it can assist you make and maintain call with family, friends, and if needed, emergency responders. Nothing let a satellite communication an equipment give friend a false sense of defense though! In an emergency, help will no be immediate and also will rely on many factors. You are still responsible because that your own safety.

River Crossings

River crossings can be deadly. Make certain you are aware of every crossings on her route. Be all set to turn roughly if the river appears too high or also swift to overcome safely. Countless rivers room impassable, also for experts. Small, unnamed creeks can come to be raging torrents under particular conditions. You have the right to take maintain on flow crossing techniques and there are numerous resources online about how come safely overcome rivers.Things come remember:

Cross in ~ the widest and/or many braided area. This is commonly where the water is shallowest. A long, shallow cross is preferable end a short, deep one.

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Unbuckle your backpack. If friend slip and fall into the current, you need to jettison your pack so it does no fill v water and drag girlfriend down.

Cross early in the day. Water levels of glacial rivers are lowest ideal after the coldest temperatures of the day, which is usually throughout the night.

Always err ~ above the side of caution as soon as it pertains to rivers!


Make sure you know just how to usage your gear and also have the proper equipment. Also if your trip is in the summer, be ready for cold temperatures and also snow. Usage dry bags or garbage bags to keep your sleeping bag dry, in addition to a adjust of clothes. Carry 2-3 work of extra food if you space using an waiting taxi to accessibility the park, in situation weather delays your booked pick up. Carry out not counting on obtaining or renting gear once you arrive at the park.Remember to practice leave no trace so future visitors can additionally have the opportunity for a wilderness experience.

My name is Courtney Eberhardy, and I"m a park ranger here at Wrangell St. Elias national Park and Preserve. Wrangell-St. Elias is a truly substantial and wild location offering an amazing possibility for adventure. Hiking right here in Wrangell-St. Elias requires significant skill and experience. Here, there space very few maintained trails, yet backcountry adventures abound. Venturing into the Alaskan backcountry, you will discover a range of risks, such as there was no sign terrain and also the opportunity of bear or other wildlife encounters. The likelihood of meeting an additional person traveling through the backcountry is very unlikely. The remote nature that the park means access is difficult, and also rescue can be hrs or also days away. Suitable preparation, and also knowledge of safe backcountry travel techniques, is a must. With enough preparation and also vigilance in the field, you will be rewarded through an completely unforgettable experience. Packing. The weather below in Alaska is ever-changing, for this reason prepare for rain, cold, and even heat. As the saying goes in Alaska, there is no such thing as poor weather, just negative clothing. Dress in layers, and also choose fabrics that will certainly not absorb water and also will save you warmth when wet, such together wool and also synthetic materials. Bear-resistant food containers are forced in Wrangell-St. Elias. You may administer your own. Yet if you do not have actually one, they can be watched for cost-free from Park company Visitor Centers. Note that a deposit is required. We recommend the following items as soon as headed out into the backcountry. Sturdy boots, rain gear, tent, resting bag, hat, sunglasses, gloves, sunscreen, layered clothing, map, compass, knife, communication device, signal mirror, light, firestarter, a gps with extra batteries, very first aid kit, water purification, stove and cookware, a load cover for your backpack, and also dry bags or rubbish bags to protect items inside the pack from becoming wet. Be affected by each other deterrent, such as bear spray is very recommended. Please note. If you room carrying be affected by each other spray or a firearm, girlfriend must notify your wait taxi operator prior to your flight. Do a perform of your crucial items and be sure that nothing is left behind. Prior to departure, be certain to examine for an to update weather forecast and current conditions of the area you will be travel in. Be ready to it is in flexible, in situation weather and conditions speak to for a adjust of plans. Inform others of her departure. You are now collection for adventure. When traveling in the backcountry, inquiries such as where am I? What direction am i going? What is the best and also safest route? need to be taken into consideration on a constant basis. Take it time generally to consult her map to identify landmarks in your area and choose the best and also safest routes. We were best there. And also eventually, we"ll keep type of reduced ahead the the follow and throughout the source glacier. Therefore that"s the large glacier that forms the staircase icefall up there. Open up spaces room best. In general, the areas over treeline, 3,000 feet or above, purchased the simplest hiking and also best views. Gravel bars along stream and also river bed are additionally a good, sturdy surface and a great place because that hiking. Traveling in those open spaces help you to store landmarks in sight and likewise lessens the possibilities of mental wildlife, specifically startling a bear. If you need to hike in an area v thick brush, travel cautiously, being sure to do plenty the noise. coming out. Speak to out frequently. Comes through. Comes through. Making noise will certainly alert bear of your presence, lessening the chances of a surprised encounter. If this is your very first time traveling in bear country or girlfriend have any type of questions in ~ all, prior to your departure, inquire through Park service Visitor facility staff. Or watch the bear safety video available top top the web at www.chathamtownfc.net/wrst, or you can watch it in human at the visitor Center. While hiking in the wilds of Wrangell-St. Elias, aid to preserve the pristine personality of the place by practicing a leave-no-trace hiking ethic. Pick durable surfaces for hiking. And also when traveling in vulnerable areas, such together alpine tundra or dryas flats, spread out therefore as not to make social trails. Watch wildlife in ~ a street for the sake of the animal and also for your own safety. Below at Wrangell-St. Elias, over there are countless parcels of exclusive property discovered within the public lands. Always respect the legal rights of these residential property owners, and never cross private property without prior permission. Consult your map frequently for floor status. When setting up camp for the evening, proceed to watch the leave-no-trace ethic. Pick a sturdy surface because that camping, and also camp at least 200 feet native lakes and also streams. Here at Wrangell-St. Elias, we ask that you set up her camp in a triangular fashion, through your tent, chef site, and also food storage website each 100 yards apart. If you pack it in, friend must load it out. Examine your campsite because that trash or flood foods. Fill out every trash, leftover food, and also litter. Because that a low-Impact campsite, making use of a cookstove is best. However, if you decide to develop a fire, select an area of low impact, such as gravel bars follow me riverbeds. Never leave your fire unattended. And all firewood have to come native dead and downed trees. Since there space very few maintained trails within the park, travel through thick brush follow me steep scree slopes and across fast and cold glacial streams and rivers need to be expected. GPS gadgets are a wonderful navigating tool, however remember that modern technology always can fail. Batteries die, and also devices can acquire wet or ruined. Because of this, possession the a map and compass, and the an abilities to read them, are essential. If a stream or river crossing appears too risky, it probably is. Remember, constantly be willing to turn back or wait for a much more suitable time if a crossing appears too dangerous. Choose the safest location and technique to cross. The widest or most graded portion of the channel is generally the most shallow. Straight networks usually exhibition uniform flow, if bends often reveal deep cut banks and also swift water top top the outside edge. Water has less inert on level floor than once flowing down an incline. If you cannot watch the bottom, toss rocks into the stream and also listen come the sound that they make. This will aid you to estimate the depth of water in the area wherein you hope to cross. If hiking solo, use a hiking pole or a sturdy tree branch held upstream to create a much more stable three-point stance. Relocate only one point of contact at a time. 2 or more hikers should cross as a team to aid support one another. Face upstream, with the upstream person supported by those behind. Hold onto one another and move in unison, with the human being in front connecting to those behind. Have actually a plan in place for a retreat if the cross proves as well difficult. In deep water, techniques such together the triangle technique or V method work well. This hikers are demonstrating the V method. Have actually the largest, the strongest member take the lead, when other civilization in the group grip every other"s shoulders or packs and work their way across in unison. Safeguard your feet. Never cross in bare feet. Wear boots or lug extra shoes because that crossings. Relocate one foot at a time, sliding it throughout the bottom. Unclip waist and sternum straps on packs to expedite remove in the event of a fall. Never cross upstream the swift water or risks in the river, such together debris, waterfalls, or downed logs or branches. Select a place to cross where, if girlfriend fall, the present will take it you to a shallow gravel bar. Need to you by chance fall, shot to regulate the fall to land on your ago and no your knee to avoid injury. Conveniently remove your pack and also hold it the end in front of you, and also work your means to a shallow area out of the current. Suitable planning, preparedness, for sure hiking techniques, and also a leave-no-trace floor ethic room essential components of a safe and also enjoyable time in the backcountry. However, there room times where true emergencies occur. In the instance of a actual emergency, have actually the complying with information prepared before calling. Have your specific location, the nature of the incident, and also what sort of aid you need. Aid can be reached by phone call the national Park service Alaska regional Communication center at 907-683-9555 or the Alaska State Troopers in ~ 907-352-5401. We below at Wrangell-St. Elias nationwide Park and Preserve great you a wonderful and also safe experience in among the last an excellent wilderness areas in phibìc America.