At 13.2 million acres, Wrangell–St. Elias is bigger than Switzerland. The Kennicott and Copper Rivers carve through giant valleys, glaciers stretch the length of Rhode Island, and the 14,000-foot peaks look even bigger when they jut out 9,000 feet from the ground. Which is to say, this place is daunting. Here’s how to do it right: Take the McCarthy Road—one of only two roads in the park—until it dead-ends near the Kennicott River, then cross a 440-foot-long footbridge and hike 1,000 feet up an old mining road to the Kennicott Lodge ($185), which overlooks the 25-mile-long Kennicott Glacier. From there you can day hike on the glacier, climb above the tree line to views of the Chugach and Wrangell ranges, or sign on for three- or four-day rafting trips on the rollicking Class II Chitina (from $990).
Or join Wrangell Outfitters’ 12-day expedition through the wide-open Nutzotin and Wrangell ranges—towering chains of 14,000-foot peaks, open tundra, and lush wildflowers in the park’s northeastern corner. The horseback trip covers a 100-mile loop to the ghost town of Chisana past ruined mines, hundreds of white Dall sheep, and abundant grizzlies—most of which have never seen a human (from $5,280).