A biographical survival drama from 2007, Into the Wild stars Emile Hirsch as the main character of Christopher McCandless. The movie chronicles his travels across North America, and the time that he spent alone in the Alaskan wilderness. While the story may not have ended well for McCandless, the film inspired many others to travel through Alaska, following in McCandless’ footsteps and exploring its epic wilderness. OROGOLD takes a look at some of the destinations that McCandless visited during his Into the Wild travels.
Denali National Park and Preserve
With over six million acres of pure, untouched wilderness, this national park is centered on Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. The area is truly rugged, and only those who have been specially trained are allowed to drive visitors through some of the unpaved cliff-side roads, with plunging drops right beside them. Many parts of the park are completely inaccessible by vehicle, making hiking a popular activity. Denali National Park is also home to many wildlife species, from grizzly bears to caribou to wolves to dall sheep, as well as over 150 different bird species, making it an animal lover’s paradise. Around 16% of the park is covered with glaciers, with the 32 mile Muldrow glacier being the largest one.
The Stampede Trail
The Stampede Trail is one that McCandless walked, aiming to live off the land, and was also home to the ‘magic bus’, which was his base during that time. It takes about two to three days to walk the trail, depending on how much you intend to walk each day, and the magic bus, although riddled with bullet holes and stripped bare of anything of value, is still there for you to visit. Although it may not be the best walking trail in Alaska, it is definitely one worth doing for fans of the movie. However, many parts of the trail can be dangerous at times, especially during bad weather, which is why OROGOLD recommends that you don’t travel alone, and make sure that you have all the necessary equipment.
Alaska’s second largest metropolis, Fairbanks is where the body of McCandless was found, after he had died of starvation. The city itself is friendly and charming, with locals always ready to give a warm welcome to visitors. During the summer, the sun casts its light over the city 24 hours a day, giving it a new energy and life. It is also a great place to view the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights, and if this is something you are hoping to catch, OROGOLD recommends visiting between September and April.
Alaska’s wilderness may be its biggest draw, but it is also what can make traveling through Alaska quite dangerous. McCandless is not the only one to have fallen victim to the harshness of the land, which is why OROGOLD advises that you travel with caution, ensuring that you never put yourself into a potentially dangerous situation. There are many orientation or training sessions that can prepare you for the wilderness if you want to take on a more extreme challenge, while for others, a tamer tour of the vast landscapes may just be enough to satisfy your travel bug!