For a lot of travelers, exploring deep into Denali National Park, far from the crowds, sounds like the ideal way to experience the famous park. But not everyone wants to rough it out there—which is why this lodge is the perfect balance, a comfortable perch in seriously remote wilderness.
Open seasonally, from early June until mid-September, Denali Backcountry Lodge is one of three lodging options in Kantishna, the former mining outpost near mile 92 of Denali’s Park Road. But this lodge can claim that, of the three, it is the farthest out in this area of the park that the vast majority of travelers never experience There’s no cell phone service, no TVs in the room, no wifi.
But the independent travelers who come out here and love this pace—some bring their kids, though usually not small children—aren't looking to keep tabs on their email while they're here. Instead, days are spent taking hikes—there are 13 different trails near the lodge—or just exploring the surrounding wilderness by bike, or with a fishing rod in hand, or even with just a good book.
Far Out, But Far From Roughing It
Getting out here is part of the adventure, too. On the day of your arrival, you take a coach from the Park entrance, and arrive at the lodge in time for evening hors d'oeurves and dinner. You’ll stay in one of 42 private cabins, each of which has running water, electricity, heat, and the all-important private bathrooms. This isn’t a four-star hotel, but guests often say how they’re pleasantly surprised by how nicely appointed the cabins are.
Creative, Fresh Alaskan Cuisine
The main lodge, meanwhile, offers a comfortable spot for dining and hanging out with fellow guests. There’s a full-service bar, and a living-room-style lounge with a fireplace to read a book, play a game or help yourself to a snack. There are two decks, one upstairs and one downstairs, screened against mosquitoes and offering the soothing sights and sounds of the Moose Creek. Breakfast, lunch—which is a soup, salad and sandwich buffet—and dinner feature locally grown produce and Alaskan twists on comfort food. You might have blueberry pancakes for breakfast, or cedar-plank salmon, ribs with blueberry barbecue sauce or reindeer meatloaf for dinner.
Build Your Own Adventure, at Your Own Pace
While most guests spend mornings on a hike, afternoons can be spent trying out gold panning, taking a local history tour around Kantishna, going fishing or mountain-bike riding, or just going down to nearby Wonder Lake to take pictures of the mountains. And one perk you don’t expect to find deep in the wilderness, you can take advantage of the lodge’s own spa—the Nest Spa and Wellness— which offers early-morning yoga classes, or a range of massage treatments, from Swedish to Thai and hot stone.
Come evening, you can sit outside the lodge, where there are firepits good for s’mores-making. It’s another joy of a camping-style vacation—but with the luxury of saying goodnight to the wilderness from the comfort of your cabin.