Ever been curious to experience life as a homesteader? You’ll get a taste of it at this lodge—mostly a collection of cabins—set on 14 acres south of Denali National Park.
The wooded property started as a homestead on 48 acres in the late 1950s, when the Stoepler family started a new life here on the banks of Carlo Creek and the Nenana River. Grandfather Otto had come to Alaska as a rural bush teacher, before Alaska was even a state, and was driving along gravel roads looking for the right spot to literally put down stakes. He stopped in the Denali area, just for a rest, and was so smitten he stayed. His first buildings included a few cabins—with gas lights and no modern conveniences—as well as a small café in the building that’s now used as an office today. He turned his home into a summer lodge in 1959, and it’s been growing ever since—first with a few more cabins, and then a gas pump— so that folks could at least stop here to refuel in more ways than one.
New Generation, More Perks
When Otto’s son Art purchased the lodgein the 1990s, another generation of Stoeplers took over, adding seven cabins cabins built with wood milled right off the property, as well as a shower house—all of which still recreate a serious homesteader spirit. Eventually, Otto’s grandson Tucker bought the property, and took it into the 21st century, in a way, by adding the Lodge building with 6 rooms (and a little wifi)—though it was all still built by hand. Today’s homestead has 11 acres of the original property, along with 10 cabins and six lodge rooms.
And while Carlo Creek Lodge still feels nicely away from any tourist crowds, you’re not totally off the grid: there are three restaurants within walking distance across the street: One is a pizza pub, another a formal dining restaurant, and the third a café that boasts of being the home of the biggest cinnamon roll in the Denali. For your night’s stay back at the lodge, you can choose from the following levels of rooms, which all come with daily housekeeping service and linens:
5 Historic Handcrafted Log Cabins with Private Bathrooms
These cabins include some of the original buildings (which have since been gently upgraded), and come with a combination of queen and twin beds, and some bunk beds. Most cabins also come with a microwave, fridge, and dining table.
5 Handcrafted Shared-Bath Cabins
These newer, handcrafted log cabins in the woods each come with one queen bed and one single bed, along with a covered porch, small refrigerator, a microwave, and wonderful views of the surrounding nature (as well as dark curtains if you need to say goodnight to the midnight sun). You’ll have use of the log-built shower and bath facility, which consists of four private bathrooms and a secondary historic shower house. Tip: The most popular cabin at this level (especially among honeymooners) is Cabin T, a smaller but historic sod-roofed cabin with one queen bed.
6 Lodge Rooms, with Private Bathrooms
These newly handcrafted rooms are located in a single-story building (though a few rooms are accessed by stairs), each outfitted with one queen bed and private bathroom. You get a small refrigerator, a microwave, and porch to take in the summer sun.
Whichever lodging you choose, you’ll get a peaceful experience with authentic Alaska history behind it—where the whole family can play and relax, with the creek and wilderness out your doorway, as well as a possible moose ambling by. While most guests stay here a few days while the explore Denali, you’ll want to stay longer just to enjoy the homestead life.