Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

    Photo: Courtesy of Wrangell Mountain Air

THE SELL: Wilderness on steroids
The largest national park in the U.S., 200 miles east of Anchorage, is six times the size of Yellowstone and has 14,185 square miles of designated wilderness and a glacier the size of Rhode Island. It also contains four mountain ranges—the Chugach, Wrangell, St. Elias, and the eastern part of the Alaska Range—nine of the 16 highest peaks in the country, and most of the largest mammals in the U.S., including grizzlies and black bears, woodland bison, mountain goats, caribou, and moose. If you're a competent backcountry traveler and love to explore in a kayak or hike with a fully loaded 5,000-cubic-inch pack, this park's for you.

OUTFITTED: Go where no man has gone before on Mountain Travel Sobek's eight-day St. Elias kayaking expedition. This unique itinerary, designed for experienced kayakers and campers, starts in Yakutat. From there you'll fly to a spot near the Malaspina Glacier and get dropped off in the middle of nowhere for an eight-day tour of the fjords and mountain valleys of the St. Elias Mountains, the highest coastal range in the world. Route conditions change from year to year, so there is no set course. Trust your guides and the fact that they've packed enough chocolate to get you through any hardship, but don't expect them to schlep your boat—a folding Klepper kayak—in and out of the water ($2,945, including internal air; mtsobek.com).

DIY: If testing your backcountry know-how hundreds of miles from humanity sounds like your idea of a vacation, consider Wrangell Mountain Air's Southern Park Traverse. A single-engine Beaver plane will drop you off near Iceberg Lake (elevation 3,200 feet), the start of a 12-to-14-day, 90-some-mile self-guided odyssey—there are no trails in these parts. You'll cross a glacier or trek up to the snow line at 7,000 feet. No matter where you go, the territory is untracked. Wrangell Mountain Air will arrange for a mid-trip food drop and will pick you up at the end, but otherwise you're on your own ($430 per person; optional food drop, $420; wrangellmountainair.com).

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