Explore the pristine Alaskan backcountry
For over 40 years St. Elias Alpine Guides has been leading backpacking trips in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, with over 13 million acres of adventure! A completely trail-less and undeveloped wilderness, backpacking in the Wrangells allows you to engage with a raw and virgin landscape, negotiating unique and challenging terrain. Always an adventure, point-to-point backpacking allows you to cover the most ground and see the changing landscapes of this enormous National Park!
Group & Private Trips
Private Trips with custom dates are available! Contact our Expedition Coordinator to start planning your trip!
Adventures with Ease
We know this area can be a little tricky, logistically speaking, so we’re here to help! We can arrange transportation to and from the Wrangells, local lodging, and other local activities before and after the backcountry trip. Upgrade your backcountry adventure to a Trip Package!
Most Backpacking Trips are also available a couple of times this summer in a Group format, too! Need a partner or two to meet the Group Trip minimum? Find partners and new backcountry buddies on our dedicated SEAG Group Trip Facebook page!
Explore Trips By Type
All the pictures and descriptions sound amazing! How do I know what’s right for me? Here are some things to think about when selecting a trip:
What is my #1 goal for this adventure? Do I want to relax and get away from a hectic schedule? Do I want to push myself on an epic and athletically challenging journey? Create life-long memories with my family or partner? Learn skills from the experts and grow my scope as a mountain athlete? See new landscapes and experience Alaska’s unique glaciated terrain?
What are my interests? Birding, animals, photography, geology, wildflowers, journaling, athleticism, spirituality, art, technical climbing, etc.
Will this trip be part of a bigger Alaska trip? Where else am I going and what else will I see? Our glaciated terrain, history, high-altitude peaks, and vast backcountry wilderness are what set us apart from other areas in Alaska.
What am I comfortable with at my current level of knowledge, experience, and physical and mental ability? Alaska is bigger and tougher than anything in the lower 48 and it’s a great place to push yourself, but you want to be realistic and make sure you have a good foundation to build upon if reaching for higher heights.
Backpacking + Basecamp Hiking Trips + Courses:
Please keep in mind that there is no truly “easy” hiking terrain in the Wrangells and often the coolest places require a little extra effort to get to. On our Moderate Trips, you will be off-trail trail for the majority of the trip, traversing some combination of rocky slopes, squishy and spongey tundra, and/or slick glacial ice in crampons - all of it uneven, most of it hilly and some of it brushy. On these trips, you will cover 5-8mi/day with up to 1500’ of elevation gain/loss while carrying your own gear along with a portion of the group gear. You will be camping in the rugged wilderness with no manmade shelters, toilets, or really any type of development. We recommend physical training in preparation for Moderate trips. These trips are great options for experienced car campers and beginner backpackers, although we always recommend as much prior experience as possible.
On our Advanced Trips, we will be completely off-trail trail for the entirety of the trip, traversing some combination of steep and rocky slopes, tussocky and squishy tundra, loose and dynamic moraine, thick brush and/or slick glacial ice in crampons - all of it uneven and hilly. On these trips, you will cover 6-10mi/day with up to 2500’ of elevation gain/loss while carrying your own gear along with a portion of the group gear (total pack weights usually come in at 40-50lbs). We highly recommend starting physical training in preparation for Moderate trips 2-3 months in advance. These trips are great for very fit hikers or backpackers with at least four +3-day trips under their belts, but honestly, the more experience you have, the better prepared you will be for the “Alaska factor”!
We often hear that our trips are the hardest trips our clients have ever done, and we hear this even from very experienced backpackers. Why? Because Alaska’s undeveloped wilderness is rough and rugged and provides endless natural challenges which make for slow going but also an extremely engaging and fulfilling experience! Our expert trips require a high level of fitness and conditioning and training prior to these trips is mandatory. On these trips, you can expect to cover up to 10 miles a day of steep, rugged, unstable, and inconsistent terrain with a 45-55lb pack of all your personal gear plus some group gear. You can expect to gain/lose between 1,000-3,000’ a day. You will be camping in the rugged wilderness with no manmade shelters, toilets, or really any type of development. These trips are perfect for very fit and experienced backpackers and we recommend starting training 2-3 months prior to the start of the trip.
Our Rafting Trips are scenic floats through incredible wilderness and on all of our trips you’ll hit Class II-III rapids. The glacial rivers we float run fast and cold so we take a conservative approach, allowing everyone to have a fun and splashy time while mitigating the risks the water presents to the boats and rafters. On Rafting Trips you can expect to go on a short hike or two each day, usually 1-3 mi total and up to ~200ft of elevation gain. Please keep in mind that there is no truly “easy” hiking terrain in the Wrangells and often the coolest places require a little extra effort to get to. There aren’t any trails where you’re headed, so most hikes will be up dry creek beds or along the brushy edges of the river. Longer and more challenging side hikes may be accessible, depending on the trip. You will be camping in the rugged wilderness with no manmade shelters, toilets, or really any type of development. No special physical training or camping experience is required . We recommend our rafting trips to anyone looking for a wilderness experience at a very comfortable pace, those wanting to spend quality time with their group, or those hoping to relax while still seeing a lot. Kids ages 8+ are welcome.
Most of our Multi-day Trips are offered in both a Group or Private Trip format.
Group Trips have set dates and are made up of individual travelers or smaller parties like couples who don’t know each other but are excited to adventure together! On a Group Trip, you’ll meet new people with similar interests and be able to spread the costs of the trip resulting in a lower per-person rate. We need a minimum of 3 people to run a Group Trip at the Group Rate and they max out at 8 participants for land-based trips and 12 participants for rafting trips. Learn more about Trip Minimums here.
Private Trips have custom dates and are just for your party. Private Trips are great for families, especially those with young children, close groups of friends or couples just wanting to spend time together, or those with special interests like photography or birding that they want to focus on during the trip. On a Private Trip, the entire experience is customized to your party and you don’t have to compromise to anyone else’s interests or abilities. Private Trips can be for just one, solo adventurer or get as big as 12 participants for larger groups.
For both Group and Private Trips, we work with a ratio of 1:4 for land-based trips, 1:3 for rafting trips, and 1:2-3 for mountaineering and ski trips. This helps with any pacing or interest discrepancies and provides additional support for bigger groups.
If you want to see the Alaskan backcountry but have no interest in carrying a heavy backpack the whole time, check out our Basecamp Trips!