The highlight of my first summer in Alaska was to paint for a week in McCarthy, AK as an artist in Residence. I had the pleasure of meeting, the owner of most of the town of McCarthy and reality TV show star, Neil Darish. I met him in McCarthy in May and we talked about me returning to paint in August. And despite me having the craziest summer with the loss of Lee, my home remodeling project and chasing all over the state of Alaska… I knew I had to go and paint. I knew it was my Alaskan artist beginning.
McCarthy is a seven hour drive from Anchorage. The last two hours are on an unserviced dirt and rock road with large potholes. There is a warning sign not to travel on the road. Despite warnings the bravest travelers venture on. You cannot drive into town without a permit and a key to cross the bridge. People park at Basecamp and then cross a foot bridge, and walk a mile into town. When you get to town you see the McCarthy History Center and then The Potato. The Potato is the spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner, beer wine, and bougie Mac and cheese, burgers, pizza and the ever loved fries. I ate there several times during my stay and watched the Oregon based band, Free Creatures.
Music and the Arts are a driving force in McCarthy. Neil brings excellent Alaskan bands to the Golden Saloon’s outside stage and open mike nights inside the Saloon. The first time I was in McCarthy was to see The Super Saturated Sugar Strings!
McCarthy is a foodie town… I already mentioned The Potato… but wait, there’s more! The Golden Saloon makes the best drinks in town and serves up delicious dining fare. For something very fancy there is the Salmon and the Bear restaurant next door. If you head five miles down the road there is another dining option at the Kennecott Lodge and a food truck. Check out my instagram reel that documents the food I ate during the artist residency: HERE.
Kennecott is the abandoned copper mining operation and is now property of the National Park system: Wrangall St. Elias National Park. From Kennecott–5 mile walk from McCarthy or take a van shuttle–you can tour some of the Copper mine buildings and head down the trail to Root Glacier. Glaciers cover 35% of this national park… Did I mention this is the biggest national park in the USA? In May, my son Scout and I hiked to Root Glacier and got to walk on the glacier. It’s quite the experience. It’s about a four mile hike round trip from Kennecott.
During my artist residency I painted daily outside of the Mountain Arts Gallery–where you can buy my paintings! I participated in a story telling event, watched a fabulous open mike night, ate delicious food, met wonderful people, listened to live music and felt at one with nature.
I stayed at Lancaster’s back packers Hotel. There is also Ma Johnson’s Hotel and if you want the experience of a lifetime… you can stay at the Kate Kennedy House. Kate was the madam and respected business woman who lived in the boom days of the mining town–1900s to 1938. The Kate Kennedy House is a totally refurbished Sears catalog home. The home is the shining gem of all that Neil Darish has done to better McCarthy and preserve the history of this fabulous place. There is a Instagram reel of my tour of the home: HERE. If you would rather camp… you can rent a spot at Basecamp for your RV, car top tent or tent. I camped the first time we went to McCarthy. It’s a bring your own water kind of place and the bathrooms are outhouses. Despite delicious food being only a mile walk away across two footbridges… the camping is roughing it.
Other than the Foodie, Arts and Music scene… McCarthy is a central location to do backpacking, glacier hikes, ice climbing, flight seeing, & rafting trips.
My first summer in Alaska… and I got to paint the beauty that I experienced in Mc Carthy, AK Thank you to Neil Darish for this opportunity. And yes, I was asked to come back next summer and paint again!
McCarthy totally closes up it’s doors come Mid-September… she won’t reopen until May or when the roads are clear enough to open her back up. I couldn’t love this summer Alaskan destination more.