Trek a Glacier the Easy Way

Head to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park to explore a beginner-friendly glacier.
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Crossing the Root Glacier en route to Donoho Basin

Crossing the Root Glacier en route to Donoho Basin

No shame in admitting it: Alaska’s wilderness can be intimidating. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a mountain guide to explore some of the state’s most spectacular terrain. Exhibit A: Donoho Basin. The grandeur of the setting belies the relatively easy 4-mile approach, says Jared Steyaert, who co-owns Kennicott Wilderness Guides.

From the small town of Kennecott, follow the Root Glacier Trail 2 miles to the base of its namesake. The glacier crossing (crampons required) is straightforward, as there are no hidden crevasses, but there are captivating glacial features like moulins—vertical tubes that suck water under the ice. Read about one family’s trip here on page 73. (Anxious about the glacier? Arrange a KWG guide to help you across.) Pick up the trail on the far side of the glacier and make your way a mile up the lateral moraine on the west side, just north of the waterfall. Follow social trails to the obvious tent sites complete with bear boxes and views of the valley and glacier below. Then relax and enjoy the show. “Later in the evening, the light is magical,” says Steyaert.

Guide Kennicott Wilderness Guides; about $200/day