The infamous “Into the Wild” bus was airlifted Thursday from Stampede trail, the Alaska Army National Guard announced. The bus will be stored at a secure site while the Alaska Department of Natural Resources considers options for its permanent location.
The effort, which removed the 1940s-era bus, was coordinated with the Department of Natural Resources and included 12 Alaska Army National Guardsmen assigned to 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, according to a news release from the Alaska National Guard.
“After studying the issue closely, weighing many factors and considering a variety of alternatives, we decided it was best to remove the bus from its location on the Stampede Trail,” said Commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources Corri A. Feige in a release. “We’re fortunate the Alaska Army National Guard could do the job as a training mission to practice airlifting vehicles, at no cost to the public or additional cost to the state.”
The abandoned vehicle that sat 25 miles west of the Parks Highway on Stampede Trail, known as “Bus 142,” or the “Magic Bus,” was popularized by John Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild,” and Sean Penn’s film adaptation in 2007.
Travelers have tried to reach the bus, and many have come to harm or required search-and-rescue services while hiking in harsh weather or crossing the Teklanika or Savage rivers.
There were 15 bus-related search and rescue operations by the state between 2009 and 2017, according to DNR reports. As recently as this February, Alaska State Troopers rescued five Italian hikers, one of which suffered severe frostbite. Individual travelers from Switzerland and Belarus drowned in 2010 and 2019.
“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” said Feige in a release. “However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts, but more importantly, was costing some visitors their lives. I’m glad we found a safe, respectful and economical solution to this situation.”
Under the oversight of DNR, 1-207th AVN Soldiers comprised of pilots, flight engineers, crew chiefs and mechanics, arrived on location via a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in order to clear vegetation and obstacles and ensure a safe rigging operation. Holes were cut in both the roof and floor of the vehicle so that the dual point chain kits could be secured properly to the bus’s frame.
Feige said the bus will be stored at a secure site while the DNR considers all options and alternatives for its permanent disposition. The department is discussing possible plans to display the bus for the public to view at a safe location.