We are often asked by visitors how to experience the best of Denali National Park. Without question, the best opportunity to see Mt. McKinley, observe wildlife, and experience a more exclusive, intimate perspective of Denali National Park is to make sure that a visit to Kantishna is included in your travel plans either as a day trip or a two night back-country lodging adventure. Located 92 miles deep into the Park, Kantishna is close to Wonder Lake. This lake, known for its epic reflections of Mt. McKinley, is something most Denali visitors see only on postcards as they don’t get deep enough into the National Park. The rolling foothills of Kantishna with views of Mt. McKinley, the historic streams that seemingly sparkle with gold, the abundant wildlife, and the premium lodging in Denali make the all day journey an adventure that will sure to be the highlight of your trip to Alaska. (more…)
Since its development, the area 7-miles south of the Denali National Park entrance has been called the McKinley Village, the area’s name associated with the McKinley Village Lodge located on an arching river bank cut long ago by the Nenana River. The Village name remains in part, but the owners of the lodge have now replaced “McKinley” with “Denali Park”. This change is welcomed by those who support ridding North America’s tallest peak the name associated with President William McKinley in favor of Denali, the Athabascans’ name meaning “The High One.” The new name is therefore is The Lodge at Denali Park Village.
The Denali Park Village has expanded to include its former neighbor, the Denali River Cabins, which was purchased by Denali Park Resorts early last winter. The River Cabins, considered an economical, value property in the past with its small cabins located on the Nenana River has been re-branded as The Cabins at Denali Park Village. The Denali Park Village owners have spent the winter freshening up The Cabins’ interiors and replacing the double beds with one king bed. Other amenities include a wall-mounted television, telephone, alarm clock, hair dryer, coffee maker and complimentary Starbucks coffee. You can upgrade to a deluxe cabin that in addition to the standard room amenities also includes a bathrobe, complimentary bottled water, and feature either a wilderness or river view. (more…)
My friend Elaine and I had the opportunity to visit the Kantishna Roadhouse this past week, a true journey into the wilderness, yet with the comforts of home: home spun, healthy meals, up-to-date firm mattresses on the beds, good shower heads, fresh coffee early in the mornings, and best of all the sweetest and most pleasant service personnel and guides one could ever ask for.
I loved the peace and quiet of the surrounding woods around the cabins and sounds of the rambling brook in front of the roadhouse. Sitting in a rocking chair, soaking in the warm sun, and listening to the birds chirping was just what I wanted to do as I left behind the hectic city of Anchorage, the usual phone calls, and my busy fingers at the computer. Elaine enjoyed the hiking more than I did. We did get a van ride up to Wonder Lake to see the mountain. It’s the closest either of us had been. The sun was shining with just a touch of cloud at the tip. Wow! What a sight. (more…)
My family and I were fortunate enough to sneak in a quick camping trip over the recent Fourth of July weekend. By way of disclaimer, or perhaps confession, I should elaborate on my family’s idea of “camping”. First we load up the RV with roughly half of the contents of our Anchorage home and head south on the Seward Highway towards our favorite “camping spot” in Cooper Landing. Even with holiday traffic, and the obligatory stop at the Girdwood “Y” bakery for apple fritters, we made the trip in right around two hours. Okay, another confession, this “camping spot” I am talking about is really in the driveway of my brother-in-law’s house who manages and lives next door to the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. (more…)
Many Alaska bound travelers find themselves looking for a hotel near the SeaTac airport as part of their vacation plans. Some are beginning or ending an Alaskan cruise in Seattle or Vancouver, others opt for a stopover in route to or from Alaska. With this in mind I am happy to share with you a hidden gem of a hotel my family and I recently discovered near the Seattle Tacoma airport.
Our family is heading south from Alaska this week for a vacation with friends down in Georgia and Florida. We decided break up our flight down from Anchorage to Atlanta with a stopover in Seattle, and what a great idea that turned out to be. We had a pleasant flight down with Alaska Airlines arriving mid afternoon. We made our way to the hotel courtesy transportation area, now located across the sky bridge in the parking garage. After a quick call to our hotel and short wait, a gray Ford Flex car arrived and took us on the five minute ride to the Cedarbrook Lodge. The lodge has a real green commitment and using smaller vehicles when possible is just one of their efforts to keep it green. (more…)
Denali National Park hotels vary widely from full service premium hotels such as the Grande Denali Lodge to smaller family owned lodges offering cabin style accommodations such as the Denali Crow’s Nest Cabins. Most visitors to the National Park stay in Denali’s “front country” just outside the Park Entrance along a 13 mile stretch of the Parks Highway. While those seeking a more intimate experience and an extended stay in Denali often combine a stay at the Park entrance with a two night stay deep within Denali National Park’s at Kantishna, also referred to as Denali’s “backcountry” located at the end of the Denali Park Road. (more…)
We often get inquiries from folks interested in seeing the Aurora Borealis, locally known in Alaska as the Northern Lights. During the summer months, it is very unlikely that you would see the Northern Lights due to Alaska’s Midnight Sun. Alaskans and visitors alike love our Midnight Sun as it provides up to 19 hours of daylight in June (or more depending on your location) and we are often seen enjoying outdoor activities late in the evening. On rare occasions in fall from Talkeetna to Denali and further North to Fairbanks, we are fortunate enough to have clear skies and atmospheric conditions that result in Aurora sightings. Lodges such as the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge provide “Northern Lights” wake up call service upon request. So, if you are traveling in the fall, be sure to check with the front desk of the lodges that you are staying at to see if they have such service. If they do, the Front Desk will call your room and wake you up, regardless of the time of night, if they observe the northern lights. (more…)
One of my favorite areas of Alaska is the Copper River Region. This area lies on the east side of the Chugach Mountain Range that surrounds Anchorage. This lesser visited area of Alaska is about a five hour drive from Anchorage. The Glenn Highway, an American Scenic Byway, passes through beautiful remote country with few populated areas. In preparation for the road trip, I make sure to put together a picnic for my traveling companions to enjoy on one of the various scenic turnouts overlooking the mountain glaciers along the highway. A great place to pick up delicious picnic supplies in Anchorage is the New Sagaya City Market in downtown Anchorage.
The Copper River Princess Lodge is a gracious and comfortable lodge conveniently located close to both Wrangell St Elias National Park and Valdez on the Prince William Sound. The Lodge is situated on a bluff overlooking the Copper River Valley that borders Wrangell-St Elias National Park. There are expansive views of the Copper River and the spectacular mountains of Wrangell St Elias from the lobby of the lodge. On my trips to the Copper River Valley I always make it a point to take time to sit out on the deck and enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the grand views of the mountains in the park. (more…)