The Wrangells and Prince William Sound
This sprawling region includes several mountain ranges and gorgeous Prince William Sound. The Wrangell Mountains and St. Elias Mountains form the backbone of massive Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, home to the second highest peak in the United States (18,008-foot Mt. St. Elias), a glacier larger than Rhode Island, towering volcanoes, and country that seems to define the word spectacular.
Wrangell–St. Elias National Park is located on the eastern margin of Alaska and is bordered by Canada’s Kluane National Park and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, and Southeast Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. Together they include more than 24 million acres—the largest protected area on planet earth.
The equally impressive Copper River drains much of the Wrangells, reaching the Gulf of Alaska east of Cordova.
Given the grandeur of this country, the settlements seem minor in this part of Alaska; the largest are Glennallen, Copper Center, and Chitina. Two primary roads cut through this country: the east-west Glenn Highway and the north-south Richardson Highway.
Prince William Sound arcs around the Gulf of Alaska, encompassing a multitude of densely forested islands, dissected bays, and rugged coastlines, with the Chugach Mountains forming a glacier-topped northern border. Virtually all of this wild country lies within Chugach National Forest, the nation’s second largest national forest.
Within the Sound are three towns: Whittier on the west is connected by tunnel and road to Anchorage, Valdez on the north serves as the terminus of the Alyeska Pipeline, and the fishing town of Cordova on the east provides a gateway to the Copper River.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition