Wrangell-St. Elias encompasses 13.2 million acres in south-central Alaska and spans three climatic zones (coastal, transitional, and interior), seven ecoregions (Coastal Western Hemlock-Sitka, Spruce Forest, Pacific Coast Mountains, Wrangell volcanoes, Copper Plateau, Alaska Range, Interior Bottomlands, and Interior Highlands), and four major mountain systems (the Wrangell, Chugach, and St. Elias Mountains and the Alaska Range).
One characteristic of the park's mountain ranges is heavy glaciation and volcanic activity. The park contains over four million acres of glaciers including the Nabesna glacier that is over 44 miles long. The glaciers are not immutable, their constant changes are a bell weather for global climate change and yet also cause local environmental changes. The park also contains numerous mud volcanoes, and has recorded nine recent volcanic episodes in the last decade. Recent earthquake activity in November of 2002 has reminded residents and visitors of the dynamic nature of the park's landscape.