Big Bend National Park vs Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

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Big Bend National Park vs Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve are two of America’s most stunning national parks, offering visitors a chance to experience the great outdoors in vastly different ways. Big Bend, located in the desert region of West Texas, is known for its rugged terrain and diverse wildlife, while Wrangell-St. Elias, located in southern Alaska, is known for its vast wilderness and spectacular glaciers. Both parks offer a wide variety of activities for visitors, but the experience of visiting each park is quite different. Imagine hiking through the desert canyons of Big Bend, watching the sun set over the Rio Grande, and then contrast that with the experience of hiking through the rugged Alaskan wilderness and seeing glaciers as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re looking for a desert adventure or a true wilderness experience, Big Bend and Wrangell-St. Elias have it all.

Hiking Trails in Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve are both located in the western United States and offer a variety of hiking trails for visitors to explore. Both parks feature diverse landscapes, from desert terrain at Big Bend to glacial valleys and mountains at Wrangell-St. Elias.

Big Bend offers a range of easy hikes, such as the 1.5-mile Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail, which winds through a variety of desert landscapes and provides an excellent introduction to the park’s ecology. Another easy hike is the 1.8-mile Lost Mine Trail, which is a moderate hike to a viewpoint with a panoramic view of the Chisos Mountains.

Wrangell-St. Elias, on the other hand, offers some of the most challenging hikes in the country. The park is home to nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States and features rugged terrain that requires a high level of fitness and experience. Some of the hardest hikes in the park include the 14.5-mile McCarthy Road hike, which takes hikers through the remote wilderness of the park and requires river crossings and steep climbs. Another challenging hike is the 8-mile hike to the summit of Mount Wrangell, which requires climbing over glaciers and steep snowfields.

Overall, Big Bend offers a variety of easy hikes for visitors to enjoy, while Wrangell-St. Elias is known for its more challenging and strenuous hikes for experienced hikers. Both parks offer visitors the opportunity to experience unique landscapes and natural beauty in the western United States.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Big Bend National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Lost Mine Trail 4.19 mi 1,098.80 ft out and back Moderate 5/5
South Rim Trail – Boot Springs Trail 10.98 mi 2,328.80 ft loop Hard 5/5
The Window Trail 5.19 mi 947.92 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Emory Peak Trail 8.48 mi 2,400.96 ft out and back Hard 5/5
Santa Elena Canyon Trail 1.50 mi 610.08 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Balanced Rock Trail 1.90 mi 232.88 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Boquillas Canyon Trail 1.20 mi 229.60 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Hot Springs Canyon Trail 5.49 mi 921.68 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Outer Mountain Loop 24.05 mi 5,707.20 ft loop Hard 4.5/5
Big Bend Hot Springs Trail 1.10 mi 127.92 ft loop Easy 4/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
0.00 mi 0.00 ft /5

Wildlife in Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve are both known for their diverse wildlife populations. Both parks offer a wide range of animals, birds, and plants that can be seen throughout the year.

Big Bend National Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, and as such, it is home to a wide range of desert-dwelling animals. Some of the most commonly seen animals in the park include the desert bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, and javelinas. The park is also home to a wide variety of bird species, including the roadrunner, golden eagle, and the peregrine falcon. The park also has a diverse plant life, ranging from cacti, agave, and yucca to mesquite, acacia, and creosote bush.

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is located in the Alaskan wilderness and offers a different set of wildlife. The park is home to a wide variety of large mammals, including grizzly bears, black bears, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. The park is also home to a wide variety of bird species, including the golden eagle, bald eagle, and the gyrfalcon. The park also has a diverse plant life, including tundra, spruce and hemlock forests, and alpine meadows.

In conclusion, both Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve offer a diverse range of wildlife, including animals, birds, and plants. Big Bend National Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert and offers a wide range of desert-dwelling animals and plants, while Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve is located in the Alaskan wilderness and offers a wide variety of large mammals and plants adapted to the harsh environment.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Big Bend National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
American Kestrel American Kestrel
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
Song Sparrow Song Sparrow
European Starling European Starling
Northern Pintail Northern Pintail
American Wigeon American Wigeon
Green-Winged Teal Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Big Bend National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Bobcat Black Bear
Striped Skunk Porcupine
Deer Mouse Red Fox
Raccoon Puma
Black Bear Mink
Porcupine Mule Deer
Silver-Haired Bat Wolf
Hoary Bat Short-Tailed Weasel
Long-Tailed Weasel Snowshoe Hare
House Mouse Land Otter
Mountain Lion Common Shrew
Mule Deer Water Shrew
Common Gray Fox Red Squirrel
Gray Wolf Montane Shrew
Long-Legged Myotis Long-Tailed Vole
American Badger Lynx
California Myotis Wolverine
Fringed Myotis American Marten
Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat Northern Flying Squirrel
Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat Grizzly Bear
Western Harvest Mouse Meadow Vole

Amphibians

Big Bend National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Barred Tiger Salamander Wood Frog
American Bullfrog
Southwestern Woodhouse’s Toad
Red-Spotted Toad
Canyon Treefrog

Fish

Big Bend National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Largemouth Bass Steelhead
Green Sunfish Longnose Sucker
Bluegill Lake Trout
Fathead Minnow Northern Pike
Common Carp Burbot
Longnose Dace Silver Salmon
Yellow Bullhead King Salmon
Channel Catfish Slimy Sculpin
Mosquitofish Threespine Stickleback
Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon
Dolly Varden
Cutthroat Trout
Arctic Grayling

Beautiful Landscapes in Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve both offer visitors a chance to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States.

Big Bend National Park is known for its rugged terrain and diverse landscapes, which include desert canyons, mountain ranges, and river valleys. Some of the most famous landscapes in the park include the Chisos Mountains, which offer stunning views of the surrounding desert and the Rio Grande, as well as the Santa Elena Canyon, which is a narrow and dramatic canyon carved by the Rio Grande. Other popular natural features in the park include the hot springs, which are a popular spot for visitors to relax and soak in the natural hot water.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is known for its vast wilderness, which includes glaciers, mountain ranges, and wild rivers. Some of the most famous landscapes in the park include the Wrangell Mountains, which are a part of the largest protected wilderness area in the United States, and the Malaspina Glacier, which is the largest piedmont glacier in North America. Another popular natural feature in the park is the Nabesna Road, which offers visitors a chance to take a scenic drive and see the park’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Overall, Big Bend National Park offers visitors a chance to see some of the most beautiful desert landscapes in the United States, while Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve offers visitors a chance to see some of the most beautiful wilderness landscapes in the United States, including glaciers, mountain ranges and wild rivers. Both parks are great for nature lovers, and offer unique and breathtaking landscapes to explore.

Things To-Do and Activities in Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve are both popular outdoor destinations that offer a wide range of activities for visitors. Both parks offer unique experiences that attract visitors from all over the world.

Big Bend National Park is known for its hiking and backpacking trails, which offer visitors the opportunity to explore the park’s rugged terrain and diverse landscape. The park has over 150 miles of trails, ranging from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry hikes. The park also offers river-running and camping opportunities which can be a great way to experience the park’s natural beauty. Additionally, the park’s scenic drives, such as the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, offer visitors the opportunity to see the park’s unique landscapes from the comfort of their own vehicle.

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is known for its wilderness and backcountry opportunities. The park offers visitors the chance to explore some of the most remote and wild areas of Alaska. The park has over 500 miles of trails, ranging from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry hikes. The park also offers backpacking, camping, and river-running opportunities which can be a great way to experience the park’s natural beauty. Additionally, the park’s scenic drives, such as the Nabesna Road, offer visitors the opportunity to see the park’s unique landscapes from the comfort of their own vehicle.

In conclusion, both Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve offer a wide range of activities for visitors, including hiking, backpacking, camping, and scenic drives. Big Bend National Park is known for its hiking and backpacking trails and river-running opportunities, while Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve is known for its wilderness and backcountry opportunities and its remote and wild areas of Alaska.

Best Time to Visit Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve have vastly different weather patterns, which affect when the best time of year to visit each park is.

Big Bend National Park, located in Texas, has a desert climate with hot summers and mild winters. The park experiences the most extreme temperatures during the summer months, with average highs reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to visit Big Bend is during the spring and fall months, when temperatures are more moderate, and the park’s desert landscapes are at their most vibrant. However, it can be too hot to hike during the middle of the day, so visitors should plan to hike early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, located in Alaska, has a subarctic climate with long, cold winters and short, mild summers. The park experiences significant amounts of precipitation throughout the year, with the most snowfall occurring in the winter months. The best time to visit Wrangell-St. Elias is during the summer months, when the snow has melted, and the park’s glaciers and mountains are accessible. However, even during the summer, visitors should be prepared for cool temperatures and unpredictable weather. The park gets heavy rainfall and thunderstorms during the summer, so visitors should bring appropriate gear.

Overall, the best time to visit Big Bend National Park is during the spring and fall, while the best time to visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is during the summer. Visitors should be prepared for extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather at both parks and plan accordingly.

Family Friendliness of Big Bend National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve are both beautiful national parks that offer visitors a chance to experience nature in different ways, however, they have different levels of accessibility and family-friendliness.

Big Bend National Park is considered to be more family-friendly than Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. The park has a variety of short and easy trails that are suitable for families with children, such as the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail and the Lost Mine Trail. The park also offers a variety of ranger-led programs, such as campfire talks, bird watching tours and guided hikes, which are suitable for children and families. Additionally, Big Bend National Park has a variety of campground options for families with children, including developed campgrounds with amenities such as restrooms and showers.

On the other hand, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is considered to be less family-friendly, as it is a remote wilderness park with rugged terrain and limited facilities. There are a limited number of trails in the park, and most of them are long, challenging and require significant hiking experience. The park also has limited facilities, such as campgrounds, picnic areas and visitor centers, which can make it challenging for families with children.

Overall, Big Bend National Park is considered to be more family-friendly than Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, offering more accessibility and more options for families with children. It has a variety of short and easy trails, ranger-led programs and campground options. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is a remote wilderness park with rugged terrain, limited facilities, and is more suitable for experienced hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

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