Off Road Vehicle (ORV) Rules

The National Park Service amended its special regulations for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (WRST), one such amendment identifies where motor vehicles may be used off roads for recreational purposes. Nothing in this rule supersedes the applicable provisions of 36 CFR part 4 and 36 CFR 13.460(d), which require that ORVs be operated in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and prohibit damaging park resources or harassing wildlife.

Review the complete rules, located in the Federal Register 36 CFR Part 13 Subpart V - Special Regulations.


Recreational ORV users are required to obtain a permit signed by the NPS to use the designated trails, and a copy of the permit must be carried by the permittee at all times.

  • Permits indicate the specific designated trails in WRST for Recreational ORV use.
  • Permits will only be issued for trails in a design-sustainable or maintainable condition, as determined by the Superintendent.
  • The rule requires that ALL Recreational ORV users stay on designated trails. Creating new trails is prohibited.
  • The rule also establishes vehicle weight and size limits in the Nabesna District to protect park resources.
  • Recreational ORV use is prohibited in designated wilderness.


Subsistence ORV Users – Qualified, local, rural residents may use ORVs to engage in subsistence activities on park, preserve, and wilderness lands within WRST. A permit is not required but is recommended for subsistence ORV use.

  • The rule establishes vehicle weight and size limits in the Nabesna District to protect park resources.
  • For trails in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) Wilderness Area, the rule requires that subsistence ORV users stay on trails and within identified trail corridors (for the purpose of game retrieval off trail). Travel outside of these designated trail corridors in the FEIS Wilderness Area is prohibited. Trails, trail corridors, and boundaries of the FEIS Wilderness Area are identified on the FEIS Wilderness Area Designated Trails Map (pdf format, 1.3 MB).
  • The trail corridors consist of 0.5 mile on either side of the trail.


The following types of vehicles may not be used off roads for recreational or subsistence uses in the Nabesna District of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve:

  • Nodwells or other tracked rigs greater than 5.5 feet in width or 4,000 pounds curb weight
  • Street-legal highway vehicles
  • Custom 4x4 jeeps, SUVs, or trucks designed for off-road use
  • Original or modified ''deuce and a half'' cargo trucks
  • Dozers, skid-steer loaders, excavators, or other construction equipment
  • Motorcycles or dirt bikes
  • Log skidders
  • Wheeled vehicles (including all-terrain vehicles, utility vehicles, and Argos) exceeding 1,500 pounds curb weight, not including trailers


The historic mill town of the Kennicott Subdivision is a residential community where NPS public lands are interspersed with privately owned lands. State ownership of the McCarthy Road ends at the southern boundary of the subdivision. Beyond that point, Kennicott Subdivision easements are private and reserved for the use of the present owners and their guests only. NHL visitors, as NPS guests in the subdivision, should be respectful of privately owned lands and residents of the subdivision.

For the purposes of this section, “off-road vehicle” (ORV) refers to all-purpose vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles that have been registered and approved by the State of Alaska for general highway use. Visitor use of ORVs to access the Kennecott mill town or points beyond, such as the Bonanza mine, is permitted as follows:

  • As a landowner in the subdivision, the NPS encourages its guests to access the historic Kennecott mill town by using a local shuttle service from McCarthy. Use of a local shuttle service or reaching Kennecott by bicycle or by foot will minimize impacts of motor vehicle use on the historic character of Kennecott, on visitors’ experience of the NHL, and on subdivision residents. Landowners in Kennicott Subdivision have requested of NPS and its guests that property rights be respected where road easements cross their private land.
  • On NPS lands in the NHL, parking is allowed only at the shuttle turnaround located next to the Kennecott Visitor Center. The turnaround has limited capacity for parking, with space only for 6-7 full-size vehicles, and often is filled early each day. Once the turnaround is filled, there is nowhere to park safely without blocking the intended use of the area as a shuttle turnaround.
  • Parking on NPS lands elsewhere in the NHL is prohibited except for Federally qualified rural Alaska residents engaged in permitted subsistence activities.
  • Subdivision easements (which are unavailable to motorized visitors to Kennecott) are private and reserved for the use of present owners of lots in the subdivision and their guests.

Recreational ORV Use

Subsistence ORV Use

Last updated: May 26, 2024

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Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center, AK 99573


907 822-5234

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