At the edge of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and overshadowed by Mount Sanford is Chistochina, a traditional Athabascan village of 100 residents.
About Chistochina (Ahtna Athabascan: Tsiis Tl’edze’ Caegge)
Chistochina is along the Tok Cut-off Road, 42 miles northeast of Glennallen, and surrounded by rivers and creeks: Sinona Creek, Boulder Creek, Chistochina River and the largest of them all, the Copper River. The north entrance to the largest national park in the United States, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, is only 35 miles from the community.
Chistochina has remained predominately an Athabascan village, where subsistence hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering are the basis of the economy. Visitors will often see beautiful handicrafts ranging from baskets and dolls to skins, furs and beadwork on display and for sale in the few local businesses.
The rivers and salmon were the reason the area was originally an Athabascan fish camp before evolving into a stopover for traders and trappers. When the Valdez-Eagle Trail was constructed during the gold rush to Eagle in 1897, miners used the traditional trail past the village, and in the early 1900s the Chistochina Lodge was built as a roadhouse for travelers. The two-story log roadhouse was one of several along the Valdez-Eagle Trail, all spaced a day's journey apart by horse or dog team. The roadhouse was designated a national historic site before burning down in 1999.
Chistochina was the site of a minor gold rush and recreational panning is still a popular activity in the area streams and creeks.
There is excellent king salmon in both the Gulkana and Klutina Rivers, peaking in July. Both rivers also support sockeye salmon runs and guides and outfitters are available in Gulkana.