Roadtrippin’ 2022: Taking the road from Chitina to McCarthy

Roadtrippin’ 2022: Taking the road from Chitina to McCarthy
Published: Jun. 11, 2022 at 4:01 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The road from Chitina to McCarthy comes with a warning that’s a little daunting. The sign spells it out clearly at mile zero, it’s a drive at your own risk situation. Don’t expect services and be prepared to help yourself if something goes wrong.

“I think people really have to remember it is a rough, old, unimproved road,” said long-time Chitina resident Michael Moody, who also volunteers as the town’s emergency medical technician.

The 60-mile road can easily take two or three hours to drive, provided people take it slow.

“A lot of times people will hit the ruts too fast and spin off the road,” Moody said, adding that flat tires are common and there’s nowhere close by to fix them.

He advised people to be well acquainted with their spare tires and definitely gas up before they go.

But despite its reputation as a challenging drive, the road has a rich history. It started life in 1909 as a railway to support the Kennecott Copper Mines near McCarthy. When large-scale mining ended in 1938 the rail ties were sold for scrap metal. In 1971, the rail bed was covered with gravel that forms the road that is there today.

And then there’s this, the road is also the gateway to the Wrangle-St. Elias National Park. There’s spectacular scenery along the way and wilderness to enjoy as you go. If you dare to take this 60-mile drive to McCarthy, you’ll be rewarded with a great adventure, which is what we were looking forward to as our Roadtrippin’ journey begins.

Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.