The Copper River in Alaska - McCarthy River Tours
Alaska Adventure Blog
Kennicott River Lodge Cabin Overlooking glacier in Wrangell St Elias NP

Alaska Travel 2021 – McCarthy & Wrangell St. Elias NP is the Place to Be

McCarthy, Alaska is Calling You

New Facilities, Private Tours, Even Smaller Groups & Expanded Vacation Options –

2021 – Pivots, optimism, and fantastic upgrades in Alaska travel adventures!

We are optimistic for a strong rebound in Alaska travel.  As America’s largest wilderness, Alaska is PERFECT for outstanding, socially distanced back country travel.  With the rollout of the vaccine continuing through 2021, we are hopeful that we can all more safely enjoy these special Alaska trips that fill the soul.  We have strong protocols in place for 2021, that we have practiced and proven during 2020.  We will continue our precautions for you and our staff  during the 2021 season to ensure safety on all of our trips and at our home base in McCarthy, Alaska, in the middle of Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

Here in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, we were also hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and cliff drop in travel and tourism. Plainly put, 2020 was not the way we expected to celebrate our 10th year in operation, cancelled were the parties & celebrations.  In their place?  Projects and a lot of old fashioned elbow grease!

Looking back to the start of February this year we were charging on all cylinders with a great slate of multi day trips and lots of happy guests scheduled for their bucket list Alaska adventures.  By mid-April, the world looked very different and we basically had to shutter for most of the season. As resilient Alaskans, we pivoted and used the season to work on some fantastic facilities updates, new lodging offerings and retooled our popular day and multi-day trips.    We are excited to share what’s new with you!

2021 Safety Protocols, Custom Adventures and Private Lodging for Alaska Adventure Travel

Masks, sanitizer & social distancing – safety first.

Alaska Travel to McCarthy Alaska- safety protocols at As the Glacier Melts Cafe

While we remain optimistic that new vaccines will help slow the coronavirus, we are ready for a summer that still requires a commitment to safety practices.  Our plan is that our staff will be wearing masks when unable to appropriately distance, and we will have sanitizer and masks on hand for your use.  We will continue to require masks in all instances where appropriate outdoor social distancing is not feasible; on our deck, check in & pre-trip gear up.  While out on your adventure, where we can reasonably distance, you will be able to make the decision to wear your mask or not.  We will continue to cycle our drysuits in and out of service between trips to allow for appropriate time to sanitize and we will be sanitizing touch points on our shuttle vehicles between tours.

Private Day Trips – Travel that Fits Your Style

Alaska Adventure Rafting - Mccarthy Group of rafters

McCarthy River Tours moved all our awesome day trips, Paddleboarding, Kayaking & Glacier Hiking, into custom private tours in 2020.  Originally, we made these decisions to ensure appropriate social distancing and safety on our tours to protect participants and guides alike.  We making that the rule now, not the exception, for the benefit of our guests.  This is great news for you – your awesome Alaskan day trip adventure is always tailored to your skill level and interests. And, for most trips, you can even schedule your preferred trip time!

Quality over Quantity – Defines Your Trip Experience with Us

Our motto has always been to offer our guests quality over quantity and we believe this is a natural pivot to being able to offer even more of that.  Private tours mean you hike as fast or slow as your group likes on a Glacier Hike. It means you get to spend more time jumping off of icebergs or exploring the many labyrinthine glacier lake channels on a paddleboard or kayak tour and not waiting for others to catch up.

Private Boats, Paddle or Oar Rafts for all Rafting Day Trips

Rafting trips will resume in 2021 – we can’t wait!  Day Rafting trips will be reserved by private boat, meaning you have the opportunity of picking the size craft your party would like.  We have our traditional 13’ paddle raft that fits up to 6 guests or choose to up your excitement in one of our 9’ “mini me” rafts that fit 3 plus a guide.

As an additional choice you can now select between paddle boating (everyone has a paddle and the guide helps steer) or an oar boat (sit back while the guide does the work).  While all of our other guided offerings will be able to be reserved at your custom time, as a matter of logistics, raft trips will still launch at 9am and 2pm daily, your boat will be private while shuttles will be shared with other boats, masks required while in the vehicle.

Our Small Group Multi Day Trips Just Got 33% Smaller!

Only 8 people per trip

While we have always maintained small group size maximums of 12 people per trip, we have made the decision to make our multi day trips even more enjoyably small and personal by lowering group numbers to 8.  What does this mean for you?  It means even smaller guest to guide ratios, more personalization and an individualized experience.  Have your own group larger than 8?  No problem, we can organize a private trip for your group!

giant iceberg nizina lake Mccarthy Alaska travel

New Multi Day Small Group Protocols Designed For Everyone’s Wellbeing

We are excited to resume our multi-day operations in 2021, after suspending them in 2020 due to the covid pandemic.  We have established a set of protocols that will help maintain the high level back-country experience we expect of our trips.  While things can always change, we have the following protocols in place for 2021.

  • All participants will need to pass a pre-trip covid screen or provide proof of vaccination.
  • During food prep and breakdown, our guides will wear masks and gloves.
  • All participants will wear masks while in the “food line.”
  • We will provide copious amounts of hand sanitizer to be used prior to all food service or while interacting with any group gear.
  • Hand wash setups will be available at all times at camp, regular use will be highly encouraged.

All of these protocols are designed to keep you and our guides safe while out in the backcountry.  On top of these protocols, the best thing about rafting in Wrangell St Elias National Park?  We will still have 13 million acres to spread our arms, breathe in the clean air and stay safe together!

NEW! Lodging | Cabins, Yurts & Camping Overlooking Wrangell St. Elias NP

Relax in the stellar views from the Kennicott River Lodge

Kennicott River Lodge Cabin Overlooking glacier in Wrangell St Elias NP

We are thrilled to add  the cabins of Kennicott River Lodge   to our lodging offerings in 2021!  Located just before the end of the McCarthy Road, you can drive directly to your cabin and enjoy a brief walk across the Kennicott River Footbridge into town.  With the BEST view of the 5,000+ foot Stairway Icefall and the Kennicott Valley, you can relax in style on your vacation.  Package your adventure and lodging to make the most of your vacation!

Our adventure office is also conveniently located on the same property, giving you direct access to our top rated guided tours, bike, kayak & paddleboard rentals as well as Alaska made ice cream and espresso! (More on this below!)

Cozy up in your private yurt at our McCarthy Riverside Campground

Over the summer of 2019, we built a yurt on our river campus, next to a babbling side channel of the Kennicott River, it has become the perfect place to relax away from the crowds. Complete with a shower house & basic cooking amenities, it is the perfect place for a budget friendly get-away.  If camping is more your style, we also have numerous private tent and RV campsites available as well, each site is equipped with a picnic table and firepit.

Welcome to “As the Glacier Melts Cafe”

Serving local Alaskan ice cream and terrific espresso-all season

As the Glacier Melts Cafe in McCarthy Alaska - expresso and icecream

We moved office locations this past summer!  Departing our longtime downtown barn home was a bittersweet moment but we are excited to be settled into our new home.  At 4 acres in size with a 200 square foot deck, we have plenty of space to spread out!  To go along with our new home, we are now offering ice cream made by Alaska Supreme Ice Cream and espresso from Steam Dot, an Anchorage based coffee roaster in our As the Glacier Melts Cafe.  Our commitment has always been to locally sourced foods on our multi day trips and we are excited to offer the same high quality products in town.

We are ready to explore the 13 million acres of stunning Alaska wilderness in 2021 with you!

While 2020 wasn’t the easiest year for any of us, we did our best to make lemonade from our lemons.  We hope that you have fared well through these difficult times and we remain hopeful and ready for a better year to come for all.  We are happy to chat with you about Alaska, our safety measures or anything else you may want to dream on your Alaska Vacation.  We look forward to enjoying the wide open spaces of Wrangell St. Elias National Park and McCarthy, Alaska with you this summer!