Katmai National Park & Preserve vs Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

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Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve are two of the largest and most diverse national parks in America. Both parks offer visitors a chance to witness the stunning beauty of Alaska and its incredible wildlife, but each has its own unique features that set it apart from the other.

Katmai is known for its incredible brown bears, who congregate along the Brooks River to catch salmon. Visitors can observe these magnificent creatures from a safe and comfortable platform, making it a unique wildlife viewing experience.

Wrangell – St Elias, on the other hand, boasts some of the tallest mountains in North America, including Mount Wrangell, an active volcano. The park also offers incredible opportunities for backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering, making it a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.

So, which park is right for you? If you’re interested in wildlife viewing, Katmai may be the way to go. If you’re an adventurous type, Wrangell – St Elias may be more your style. In this article, we’ll delve into both parks in detail and compare their merits, so you can decide which one is best for your next Alaskan adventure.

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

Katmai National Park & Preserve, located in southwestern Alaska, and Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve, located in the southern part of the state, are two of the most popular national parks in Alaska. Both parks offer a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to strenuous backcountry adventures.

Katmai National Park is known for its hiking trails that lead to the top of the Brooks Falls, where visitors can observe brown bears fishing for salmon. Additionally, the park offers the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a unique volcanic landscape with multiple hiking trails that lead to the top of the steam vents. The park’s trails are well-maintained and range from easy walks to strenuous hikes.

Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve is a hiker’s paradise, with a vast network of trails that varies from easy walks along glaciers to challenging backcountry treks. The park boasts the Root Glacier Trail, an easy hike along the glacier that’s perfect for families and first-time visitors. On the other hand, the park’s Mount Bona and Mount Blackburn trails are two of the most strenuous hikes in the park and require a high level of physical fitness and technical skills.

Both parks offer a unique and unforgettable hiking experience, with stunning views of glaciers, mountains and wildlife. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor, Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve have something to offer for everyone.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Katmai National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Brooks Falls 2.89 mi 209.92 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Dumpling Mountain 2.99 mi 741.28 ft out and back Moderate 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 Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell- St. Elias National Park & Preserve are two of Alaska’s largest and most diverse national parks. They both offer unique wildlife viewing opportunities, but there are some differences between the two.

Katmai is famous for its large population of brown bears that can be seen fishing for salmon in Brooks River. Other wildlife that can be seen at Katmai includes moose, caribou, and a variety of birds such as eagles, loons, and gulls. The park is also home to a number of salmon streams, making it a great place for bird watching.

Wrangell- St. Elias, on the other hand, is a haven for large mammals such as Dall sheep, mountain goats, and wolves. The park is also home to a large population of bald eagles, which can often be seen along the Chitina River. The park is also home to a variety of plant life, including spruce and hemlock forests, as well as tundra meadows.

Both parks offer visitors a chance to see a wide range of wildlife, but the specific species will depend on the time of year and the location within the park. It is a good idea to do some research before visiting either park to find out what species are most likely to be seen at that time of year.

Overall, both Katmai and Wrangell- St. Elias offer unique and thrilling wildlife viewing opportunities. Whether you’re looking to see bears, wolves, or eagles, both parks are sure to deliver an unforgettable experience.

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

Birds

Katmai National Park & Preserve 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
Northern Flicker Red-Tailed Hawk
Merlin Northern Flicker
Barn Swallow Merlin
Savannah Sparrow Barn Swallow
Hermit Thrush Savannah Sparrow
American Kestrel Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle Hermit Thrush
Song Sparrow American Kestrel
European Starling Bald Eagle
Northern Pintail Song Sparrow
American Wigeon European Starling
Green-Winged Teal Northern Pintail
American Pipit American Wigeon
Swainson’s Thrush Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Katmai National Park & Preserve Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Little Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Black Bear Black Bear
Porcupine Porcupine
Red Fox Red Fox
Mink Puma
Gray Wolf Mink
Short-Tailed Weasel Mule Deer
Varying Hare Wolf
Northern River Otter Short-Tailed Weasel
Masked Shrew Snowshoe Hare
Red Squirrel Land Otter
Montane Shrew Common Shrew
Lynx Water Shrew
Wolverine Red Squirrel
American Marten Montane Shrew
Grizzly Bear Long-Tailed Vole
Meadow Vole Lynx
Moose Wolverine
Least Weasel American Marten
Pygmy Shrew Northern Flying Squirrel
Meadow Jumping Mouse Grizzly Bear
Northern Bog Lemming Meadow Vole

Fish

Katmai National Park & Preserve Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Redband Trout Steelhead
Longnose Sucker Longnose Sucker
Lake Trout Lake Trout
Northern Pike Northern Pike
Burbot Burbot
Silver Salmon Silver Salmon
King Salmon King Salmon
Slimy Sculpin Slimy Sculpin
Threespine Stickleback Threespine Stickleback
Sockeye Salmon Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon Chum Salmon
Dolly Varden Dolly Varden
Arctic Grayling Cutthroat Trout
Arctic Grayling

Amphibians

Katmai National Park & Preserve Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Wood Frog Wood Frog

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

Katmai National Park & Preserve is known for its volcanoes and bears. The park is located on the Alaska Peninsula and is home to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which is a unique landscape of ash-filled volcanic vents. Visitors can watch brown bears catch salmon in Brooks Falls or take a guided tour to see the bears up close.

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve is the largest national park in the United States, and is known for its pristine wilderness and glaciers. The park is home to nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States and is a popular destination for backcountry hiking and mountaineering. The park also features the Wrangell Mountains, which are home to many glaciers and offer spectacular views. Visitors can take guided hikes to see glaciers up close and visit the historic Kennecott Mines, which were once one of the largest copper mines in the world.

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

Katmai National Park & Preserve, located in Alaska, is known for its abundant wildlife and the famous Brooks Falls, where visitors can observe brown bears fishing for salmon. In contrast, Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve, also located in Alaska, offers a unique combination of glaciers, mountains, and history, making it a popular destination for mountaineering and backpacking.

For those looking for a more relaxing activity, both parks offer opportunities for fishing and boating. In Katmai, sport fishing is popular for its salmon runs, and boaters can explore the scenic coastlines and nearby islands. Wrangell – St Elias also offers fishing opportunities, but also has the added bonus of glacier and ice-field kayaking.

Both parks offer scenic flights over the stunning landscapes and wildlife, making them ideal for aerial photography. In Katmai, visitors can see the famous Brooks Falls, as well as bears fishing for salmon in the Brooks River. In Wrangell – St Elias, flights over the glaciers and mountains provide breathtaking views for visitors.

Whether you are interested in wildlife viewing, fishing, boating, mountaineering, or simply enjoying the stunning scenery, both Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve offer unique and unforgettable experiences for visitors.

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

Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve are two of Alaska’s most popular national parks. While both offer breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife, the seasonal weather at each park can affect when is the best time to visit.

Katmai National Park & Preserve is located on the Alaska Peninsula and has a subarctic climate with long, cold winters and mild summers. The best time to visit is from June to September when temperatures are warm and the park is accessible by boat or floatplane. Winter weather can be harsh with heavy snow and low visibility, making it challenging to access the park.

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is located in the interior of Alaska and has a continental climate with cold winters and short, warm summers. The best time to visit is from May to September when temperatures are warmer and the park is accessible by road. Winter weather in the park can be extreme with heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures, making it challenging to access the park.

In conclusion, while both Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve offer unique landscapes and wildlife, the best time to visit each park depends on the seasonal weather. Visitors should plan their trip based on the weather and accessibility of each park to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

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

Katmai National Park & Preserve and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve are both popular tourist destinations for families. Both parks offer a variety of recreational activities, stunning natural landscapes, and opportunities to see wildlife.

Katmai is considered to be the friendlier park for families with children. The park’s Brooks Camp is a popular spot for bear viewing and offers guided tours and educational programs for families. The park also has several hiking trails suitable for kids, including the boardwalk trail to Brooks Falls.

Wrangell – St Elias, on the other hand, is a more remote and rugged park. While it offers a unique wilderness experience, it is not as family-friendly as Katmai. The park is vast, making it difficult to access many of its attractions. The park also lacks the developed infrastructure and educational opportunities found in Katmai.

For families traveling with children, Katmai National Park & Preserve is the better option. It offers a variety of educational and recreational activities, as well as easy access to its most popular attractions. Wrangell – St Elias is suitable for families with older children who are comfortable with rugged terrain and a more remote wilderness experience.

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