Bus 142 is shown with a UH 60 Blackhawk helicopter that supported the Alaska Army National Guard operation that transported the bus from the Stampede Trail to an interim staging point on the Stampede Road shortly before 1 p.m. ADT yesterday. The Department of Natural Resources will store the bus in a safe, secure location while considering options for its permanent disposition.

‘Into the Wild’ Bus Removed From Denali National Park

Christopher McCandless, the subject of the book and film ‘Into the Wild,’ died in the abandoned bus.

In 1992, after graduating from college, Christopher McCandless searched for a different lifestyle. He donated his college savings, packed up a few supplies, and hitchhiked into the Alaskan wild.

McCandless was hiking along the Stampede Trail when he stumbled upon an abandoned Fairbanks city bus, “Bus 142.” He lived there for 114 days — and ultimately died in the bus.

Jon Krakauer documented the entire story in his book “Into the Wild.” The book was later made into a major motion picture.

into-the-wild-bus
Bus 142 prior to extraction from the Alaska wilderness

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, it’s worth some time. The book became an instant classic of outdoor literature.

But the story also spurred many sometimes naive or inexperienced people to try and reach the bus as something of a pilgrimage. Since the publication of the book, hundreds of people have traveled to Healy, Alaska, to hike about 25 miles to see the Bus 142.

However, the remote location of the bus across the sometimes rain- and meltwater-swollen Teklanika and Savage rivers created a hazard requiring frequent search-and-rescue calls to save individuals stranded there.

Worse yet, several people have died trying to reach it.

So on Thursday, 12 Alaska Army National Guardsmen assigned to 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment Department extracted the 1940s-era bus in a coordinated effort with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“I know it’s the right thing for public safety in the area, removing the perilous attraction,” said Denali Borough mayor Clay Walker. “At the same time, it’s always a little bittersweet when a piece of your history gets pulled out.”

The bus was abandoned in the 1960s and had sat there ever since, even after McCandless’s death.

According to DNR Commissioner Corri A. Feig, the government will store the bus at a secure site until it decides its permanent placement. The department is considering plans to display the bus for the public to view at a safe location.

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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based in Denver, Colorado, but frequently travels abroad. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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