Famed 'Into the Wild' bus is airlifted from Alaska backcountry

Alaska authorities said the 1940s-era bus made famous by the best-selling book and film was removed from the wilderness for issues of public safety.
/ Source: TODAY

The famous bus from "Into the Wild" is no longer in the wild.

Alaskan authorities had the bus airlifted by an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter on Thursday from its longtime location on the bank of the Teklanika River near the Denali National Park and Preserve.

“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige said in a news release. “However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts. More importantly, it was costing some visitors their lives."

The bus was flown to a secure location and will be held there while authorities consider options for a permanent home, according to the release.

The 1940s-era Fairbanks city bus was dubbed the "Magic Bus" by Chris McCandless, the central character of Jon Krakauer's 1996 book "Into the Wild" and the 2007 movie of the same name starring Emile Hirsch. The book and film detail McCandless' journey around the West, which ended with the 24-year-old wanderer dying alone of starvation in the bus in 1992 after living for 114 days in the Alaskan backcountry.

Locals have long called for removal of the bus, which has drawn travelers from around the world seeking to re-create McCandless' journey. Multiple people have died from the harsh weather or from trying to cross dangerous rivers nearby, including two drownings since 2010, according to Feige.

The bus is located 25 miles from the nearest highway and was originally used by a construction company to house employees who were building an access road. It had been abandoned since 1961 before McCandless came upon it.

"After studying the issue closely, prioritizing public safety and considering a variety of alternatives, we decided it was best to remove the bus from its location on the Stampede Trail,” Feige said. "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."