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Old 09-29-2012, 03:01 PM   #1
Wes_FSTGDB
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Default McCarthy Road Trip

Well, because of the nature of my business it is rare that I ever get to go out and explore our great state. Our rental car company is one of the only ones that will allow you to take a rental car on this road. There is a lot of speculation about the road and I really wanted to go out and explore this area for myself. I know a full-size car could take the road, but I wanted to see how the old Suby would handle it. So off we went on a little 3 day adventure.


Headed to the Fair and then off to the Copper River Princess Lodge. The lodge was great and offered some of the most spectacular views of the Warngell mountains in the Warngell-St. Elias National Park. I would have to say that the Warngell-St. Elias National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in Alaska. Denali is pretty amazing, but the Warngell St. Elias mountains are incredible.




So off to the pictures. The Suby handled the road like a real champ. Not a single flat tire, no issues at all. Average speed was about 35mph. Lowest speed was 10MPH and peak speed was around 55MPH. It is 93 miles from the Richardson HWY to the edge of the road in McCarthy so it took about two hours to reach the end of the road. It was a lot of fun to say the least and I can add this to another reason why I bought another Subaru again




Headed into the McCarthy Road. This was pretty cool.



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Old 09-29-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
Wes_FSTGDB
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:08 PM   #3
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By this time I really wanted to go hike or climb on a glacier! My wife was holding me back, lesson learned for next tme we go, bring proper hiking gear! lol
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
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Great write up Wes. Thanks for sharing. Glad someone else is posting up their trips.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:19 PM   #5
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Looks like alot of fun I know what I'm checking out next summer.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:20 PM   #6
Wes_FSTGDB
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Worthington Glacier, Finally got to go climb on one!



No idea what in the hell she was looking for or what kind of special rocks she thought she found




Off to Valdez!



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Old 09-29-2012, 03:26 PM   #7
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My wife complained the entire time about not seeing any wildlife and before we headed out of Valdez back to Anchorage we were greeted by this cute little guy. I am sure he would tear me apart with ease, but black bears are pretty awesome and this was a great ending to our trip.


For any of those that plan to go to McCarthy next year, plan to stay some where near by the park or camp. I hope to camp there next year and take day hikes. Most of the hikes to go into the actual open pit copper mines are long and tiring day hikes, but I am told it is well worth it.

I had no idea the reason Cordova exist was because of this place. There was a railroad that spans to Cordova where up to $220 million dollars worth of Copper was shipped out in the early 1900's. It is too bad the State does not finish the road to Cordova, that would be one hell of a drive.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:27 AM   #8
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Great photos man! Makes me wish I had done some more trips around Alaska before I left! The McCarthy/Kennecott trip was one my family used to do with regularity, one of the best trips in Alaska that you can do by car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes_FSTGDB View Post
There is a lot of speculation about the road.
Is there? It's a pretty well known destination I thought.

We used to take family trips there all the way back late 70's and 80's, well before it was as popular as it is now. It has changed so much it's unbelievable. As for driving a full-size car, yeah, of course, my Dad drove in our 30' and later his 40' Class A motor home, so any car would be fine!

The road used to be much worse when he would take his 30' motorhome, washouts, ruts, mud, washboard road, etc. Traversing the washouts with a big motorhome was fun, fill it in with gravel, rocks, wood, anything and hope you don't fall in! The Kuskulana bridge is not as much fun as it used to be. There used to be absolutely NO guardrail of any kind since it was a railroad trestle, it was traverse at your own risk. Then they added a different rail, that was just a 6" high sideboard, still not gonna stop much if someone was gonna go over... but now they added that guardrail, which is good, but not as scary, hence not as much fun.

I used to work here! I was an IT tech at the TAPS Valdez Marine Terminal (all along the pipeline actually) back in the 90's!
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:01 PM   #9
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I agree man, one of the best trips by car. It depends on who you talk to, we are the only company that allows a car to be driven on the Denali Highway and the McCarthy Road. Both have been given a bad name because of how "dangerous" they are. Most still publish in the AK Visitor Guides that the McCarthy Road is littered with railroad ties and spikes, and you will have to bring multiple spare tires. We probably get at least 200 calls a year for people wanting to travel that road with the same questions and we have to give them the correct information.

We work with the owner of the McCarthy Lodge/MaJohnson's hotel in McCarthy and the premier vendor at the Kennecott Lodge. We've been able to get a lot of people to McCarthy without taking a plane or have any issues with spare tires. I was really dissapointed when I asked the lady at the front desk of the Copper River Princess about it and they looked at me like I saw a ghost. She said, "That's 4 hours away, it's a really long drive, it's dangerous, and plan on bringing two spare tires!" I was not going to argue, but unfortunately that is the thought of the McCarthy Road and everyone in and around that area is trying to change that.

The same goes for the old Denali Highway. In ten years we have had two cars roll over, one this year (Expedition, Indian guy flipped it several times with his family in the car, luckily no injuries and we got him back on the road in a new car in less than 24 hours) and one back in 2004 when a guy in a Taurus flipped it. Both were caused by people going too fast. Other than that, the Denali Highway is another beautiful drive by car.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:09 PM   #10
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And thank you for the other kind comments.

This place really brings you back to the early 1900's. It was really fascinating. It brought me back to child hood memories when my mom would bring us to the Idependence Mine every other year to go out and explore. It is crazy what people could do back then with so little in the way of technology and in extreme/harsh conditions.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:36 PM   #11
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Wow I really don't know much about this state. Lived here my entire life and never realized there was a road out that way. I know what I'm doing the next time the wife and I both have a couple days off together, which probably won't be for awhile.
Drove out the Elliot to manly and up to the Arctic circle last fall, that was fun.
Thanks!
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:38 PM   #12
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Thanks, Wes. Beautiful pictures. I've been into the McCarthy airstrip but have never driven that road.
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:11 PM   #13
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We bought my WRX in June of 2002, about a month before our son was born. We took that same trip together in my car with our two week old son in August of that year with him strapped into his car seat. Never had any issues with the road or the trip back out. We went into Valdez and stayed at a nice B&B too. We were living in Homer at the time. It was a spectacular trip. I recognize the bridal veil and horse tail falls in Keystone canyon. If none of AKIC has made the trip up and over Thompson pass on a sunny day, you haven't truly seen Alaska.
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