The Stampede Trail and the 142 Magic Bus

Image Credit: Baggis/Flickr

Image Credit: Baggis/Flickr

The Stampede Trail is a road located in the U.S. state of Alaska. A portion of it it’s paved but the remainder of the route consists of a primitive and dangerous hiking trail that follows the original path. Despite the hazards, hikers trek this difficult region and often comes with heavy backpacks for night stays.

Image Credit: Baggis/Flickr

Image Credit: Baggis/Flickr

In 1961 Yutan Construction began upgrading the trail so it would be used by trucks to transport ore from the nearby mines. The project was stopped in 1963 after 80 km of road were built. Even though it crosses several rivers, no bridges were constructed. The trail has since been used by backcountry travelers on foot, bicycle, snowmachine, and motorcycle.

The Stampede Trail leads to the famous “Magic Bus” in which Christopher McCandless lived for several months, from April until August 1992. Hauled into the wilderness by a construction company in the early 1960s as a backcountry shelter during a short-lived road project along the area’s Stampede Trail, the bus would soon be abandoned and forgotten on the far side of a boggy, river-soaked parcel of public wildland attracting mainly moose and local hunters. The life of this young man is very well told in the bestseller “Into the Wild ” by Jon Krakauer and also in the movie Sean Penn made ​​in 2007.

The Magic Bus Image Credit: Flickr/ Erik Halfacre

The Magic Bus
Image Credit: Flickr/ Erik Halfacre

This dilapidated bus became a place of pilgrimage. Tourists come from the other side of the world to visit. However it is really not easy to get there and requires performing a long walk (40 km) through the tundra. The road is not as well maintained as it is used to be and it’s easy to get lost in the great outdoors of Alaska. Halfway to the bus there’s a major obstacle: the Teklanika River. Crossing the river is risky because of the strong currents. In the middle of the summer the river is too swollen and crossing is not allowed.

Hikers take a break at Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail.

Hikers take a break at Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail.

Image Credit:  Erik Halfacre/Flickr

Image Credit: Erik Halfacre/Flickr

Image Credit:  Jenna Halfacre/Flickr

Image Credit: Jenna Halfacre/Flickr

In the past few years the bus has been trashed by visitors and that’s a shame. Despite this the place remains “occupied” by McCandless. It exudes a lot of emotion and if you happen to spend a night in it there is a feeling that this abandoned bus really has a soul.

More info and location at

Update: “Alaska’s ‘Into the Wild’ bus, known as a deadly tourist lure, has been removed by air” –
The decision to remove the bus in coordination with the Department of Natural Resources was made out of concern for public safety, the guard said in a statement. In its current location, near Healy, Alaska, the bus has drawn people into danger of the Alaska wilderness.

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