Can you take an RV on the road to McCarthy, Alaska?
Can you take an RV on the road to McCarthy, Alaska? The short answer is yes! But should you? That’s going to be up to you. We hope our experience will help you make your decision.
The McCarthy Road
The McCarthy Road [pdf] used to be a railroad. After the rail was no longer needed, they converted it to a road. A rough road.
If you’re wondering if you should take your RV on the road to McCarthy, you might want to watch this video. We did it in a 34 ft. motorhome that was towing a car. Nothing catastrophic happened. If you’re going to be super cautious, make sure you have a spare tire. We didn’t have one. There isn’t a place for it on our RV.
The McCarthy Road starts in Chitina. You will pass through an old railroad tunnel with the top blown off. It’s a one-lane road through there.
Next, you’ll pass over the Copper River. We stayed at this campground on the right side of the road before we headed to McCarthy.
The first hill up from the Copper River is steep and gravel. The road conditions are varied. Sometimes you have pavement, sometimes it’s gravel, sometimes it’s hardpack, and potholes can happen at any time. You’ve got to take it slow.
The road is also very dusty. The copious dust will give you the opportunity to find every place that you need to patch in your RV. Dust got into our clothes in some of the drawers and the top drawer in the bathroom.
We crossed over the Kuskulana Bridge, then pull over and stopped. It has minimal guardrails and is one lane. So make sure no one is coming before you head over.
There’s a catwalk underneath the bridge you can access. If you’re up for it, totally do it!
You’ll get fantastic views of the river. The bridge is 238 ft. high but it sure seems like more than that.
Long Lake is unique as it’s the longest duration sockeye run in North America. They run from September to April.
Views along the way
You will get beautiful mountain and river views along the way.
A mama moose and a baby! You’ll see the baby run from behind the mama towards the end of that clip.
We made it!
You don’t drive all the way to McCarthy. The road ends about a mile out. There are a couple of campgrounds there. To get to McCarthy, you walk the footbridge over the river, and then you can walk, bike, or take a shuttle. For $5 the shuttle will bring you the 5 miles to Kennecott. We’ll cover McCarthy in our next post.
At the Wrangell St. Elias visitors center, don’t forget to pick up the audio tour CD. It’ll give you historical information and point out landmarks all the way down McCarthy Road.
Special guest camera skills and commentary by Paul and Lorena of The Motorhome Experiment.
So what do you think? Would you take your RV on the road to McCarthy? We’d love to hear if you would or have done it in the comments below.
About the Author
vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.