The Playbook For The Modern Man

Alaska’s Most Iconic Attraction Removed After 60 Years

End of an era.

All good things must come to an end. In this case, it’s the removal of Alaska’s Into The Wild icon – a rusty bus which has sat 25 miles off of Parks’ Highway, on The Stampede Trail, for 60 years.

Made famous by the 1996 best selling book Into The Wild (which was later adapted into a movie), the abandoned bus is where 24-year-old backpacker Virginian Christopher McCandless stayed for 100 days in 1992 until his death.

West of the Teklanika River, the bus has drawn visitors – many following in McCandless’ footsteps – over the years, sparking several more deaths and rescues. The area, on the boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve, is treacherous.

Advertisement

To reach the bus one must endure wilderness conditions and cross the fast-moving Teklanika River. In light of this danger (and the bus’ insatiable pull), local officials have long called for its removal.

“It’s a little bittersweet, honestly,” said Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker. “We know it’s the right thing to do for public safety, yet at the same time I watched it go down the Stampede Road, it does feel like a piece of your history moving on.”

As for the removal: the bus was airlifted out and placed onto the back of an Alaska Department of Transportation flatbed truck, as part of a coordinated effort between the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska Army National Guard.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Cheddar🧀 (@cheddar) on

The bus will remain in storage at a secure location, and the state is considering options for its permanent placement (it may be displayed somewhere people can visit it safely).

Though this goes against the philosophy of many of those interested in seeing the bus in the first place, officials would point to the recent spate of incidents unprepared (or unlucky) travelers have caused.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by VANLIFE🚙|TRAVEL COUPLE👩‍❤️‍💋‍👨 (@nomadarte) on

As Traveller reports, “Between 2009 and 2017, there were 15 bus-related search and rescue operations by the state, according to the natural resources department.”‘

Advertisement

“Most recently, a 26-year-old Brazilian man was rescued from the area in April after running out of food and becoming trapped when ice over the Teklanika River melted and the rushing waters swelled. Five Italian tourists were rescued in February,” (Traveller).

“In 2019, a 24-year-old woman from Belarus died as she struggled to cross the river after spending two nights at the bus.”

“It has long been a perilous attraction,” local Borough Mayor Clay Walker said of the bus.

Though Mount Denali has also caused deaths over the years (and, likewise, more people have been endangered by brown bears and frozen lakes than this bus), we’d say the Into The Wild bus was Alaska’s most perilous ‘in one place’ tourist attraction of the last 60 years.

The 1940s-era bus – Fairbanks city bus 142 – was dragged to the spot by Yutan Construction as shelter for employees during a pioneer road construction project, then left to rot when the project was completed in 1961.

Hopefully it ends up resting in peace, not pieces…

Read Next

NEW ON D'MARGE


Show More

Subscribe

Close

The playbook for the modern man

Get the very best of men's style, health, travel & culture delivered to your inbox.

Dont show me this again