Copper River, Wrangell Mountains, Simpson Hill Overlook

The Copper river and Mt Drum, from Simpson Hill Overlook. View of the Copper River basin and Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

The Copper river and Mt Drum, from Simpson Hill Overlook. View of the Copper River basin and Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image thumbnail to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

OK, enough with the waterfalls already! Here’s another image from my spring trip earlier this year, from Simpson Hill Overlook, off the Richardson Highway, near Glennallen, Alaska. This is a scene I’ll never tire of; looking down the Copper River, with the Wrangell Mountains in glorious sunshine. The mountains you can see in this image are Mt. Drum on the left and Mt. Wrangell the broader, dome-shaped mountain on the right in the background.

Just out of sight to the left of the frame is Mt. Sanford, and  Mt. Blackburn to the right. How many vantage points do you know of in North America where you might choose to exclude from your photo two mountains both of which stand over 16 000′ high? That speaks volumes, in my opinion, about how amazing this viewpoint is. The 5th (Blackburn) and 6th tallest peaks (Sanford) in the US and they don’t make the photo? Craziness!

The Copper River is pretty grand too. Not to get bogged down by meaningless numbers and superlatives, but the Copper River is 300 miles long, and the 10th largest river, by volume, in the US. The Copper River is also the north and western boundaries of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, coolest park in all the world! It’s perhaps best known, however, for its nearly infamous Red Salmon run, usually over 2 million spawning salmon, loaded with fatty Omega-3 oils that make for some delicious supper.

I was really hoping for some sweet delicious alpenglow on this particular evening …. but ….. alas, such wasn’t to be my fortune. The light faded soon after I shot this – the boreal forest in the foreground grew dark, and the mountain light ebbed and dwindled; distant dim clouds low on the northwestern horizon thwarted my efforts at capturing some rich color on the snow-capped peaks, as seems to be the case all too often.

This scene is one of the very few ‘roadside‘ vantage points from which to photograph some of the big mountains in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Willow Lake is another. The views on a clear day from these places rival anything I’ve seen anywhere else. The problem, I guess, for photographers is that the clear days are few and far between. Enjoy ’em when ya can! 🙂



5 thoughts on “Copper River, Wrangell Mountains, Simpson Hill Overlook

  1. Patrick Endres

    That’s a worthy composition and a great view. I’ve had a tough time catching the skies clear enough down that way, but the options abound if you can score on it. I did however, following a long day of dipnetting salmon, get some good light on the mountains from the Willow Lake viewpoint. About 5:00am on a late August morning–it was very fine.

  2. Kent Mearig

    Someone might tell me about the ache in their back, and I could have a hard time feeling empathetic; but you mention low lying clouds on the western horizon, and boy do I ever feel your pain. It makes those rare sunsets all the more special though.

  3. Carl D Post author

    Hey Patrick,

    Wow – you got light on the mountains at that time of day, in August? Given that Willow Lake is west of the mountains, I tend to think of that location as a sunset shot, unless you get some high cloud for sunrise. Maybe I need to give that a whirl? It’s a grand scene, for sure.

    Hey Kent,

    My thoughts exactly – that sweeping flat low cloud that spells the end of sunshine. 🙂



  4. Richard Wong

    Amazing scenery Carl. As I was flying home from Anchorage, I found myself both depressed for the lower 48 and pissed at the same time that we do not have vast stretches of landscape like this anymore in CA.

  5. Carl D Post author

    Hey Richard

    Agreed … there are far too few large tracts of landscape left relatively alone in most parts of the world. this particular scene is a favorite of mine – it never fails to excite me when those big mountains roar up out of the clouds.



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