Deep in Alaska’s wild interior lies over six million acres of preserved wilderness otherwise known as Denali National Park. With glacial lakes, frozen tundra, expanses of unspoiled forest and massive mountain peaks (including the towering Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak), over 400,000 visitors flock here every year for the unique wildlife viewing and spectacular scenery on display.
Offering a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the pure, untamed wilderness that is Alaska, Denali National Park is Alaska’s most popular land attraction. Though it’s almost impossible to experience the park in just one day. Most visitors choose to stay 3 or 4 nights, (we chose to stay for 5), though when you find yourself wanting to spend multiple nights in Alaska’s wild interior, the question then becomes, where do you stay?
Alaska.org advised that “90% of visitors choose a Denali hotel near the park entrance because it’s convenient, less expensive, offers a variety of lodges from luxurious to rustic, is near the national park visitor center, and is within easy access to transportation and interpretive bus trips along Denali Park Road and a variety of recreational activities and Denali excursions”.
This was sound enough logic for us, and we as such checked into The Lodge at Denali Park Village.
Located just seven miles from the park entrance and nestled among 20 acres of spruce forest along the glacial-fed Nenana River, we found The Lodge to be the perfect gateway to Denali National Park and Preserve, as well as a fantastic base camp for additional excursions and adrenaline activities which launched from right outside our door.
There are light hiking and interpretive trails onsite, with more rugged trails nearby (the Triple Lakes and Oxbow trails offer spectacular views…photos below), and several rafting trips launch from the river right in front of the property. You can take a walk of the Nenana River and watch for wildlife, enjoy dinner on the outdoor seating decks as rafts float by, an evening drink by the outdoor fire, or peruse the gift shops on-site.
This is the place to get back to nature while enjoying the luxuries of a first-class lodge. It is close to the action while allowing you to enjoy the solitude of nature as you relax to the sound of the river sweeping by.
Open mid spring – the start of fall (2015 dates of operation: May 13 – September 13), Denali Park Village offers outstanding views, fine dining, and superior guest hotel rooms. Room choices range from modern guest rooms at “The Lodge” or cozy rustic cabins at “The Cabins”.
Constructed with environmentally responsible material with a high-timber lodge look and feel, The Lodge is spread out among seven two-story buildings (one of which has an elevator and each with a fully functional fireplace and comfortable seating in the lobby area), and hotel rooms feature double beds or two queens, comfortably sleeping up to four adults.
Our River View Room overlooked the Nenana River, and there was nothing like returning to our room to find a perfectly made king-size bed welcoming us back from our adventures at the end of each day!
Renovated and refreshed for the 2014 season, the Lodge Rooms offered all of the modern comforts and amenities you would expect – complimentary WiFi, a wall-mounted television and in-room phone, and with beautiful views of the Alaskan wilderness from your window.
The Lodge offers dining opportunities and a magnificent deck with a fire pit and breathtaking views where you’ll unwind after a day of adventure. After having worked up a hearty appetite exploring Alaska’s vast wilderness, the range of dining options did not disappoint. The Lodge offers everything from fine dining and simple pub fare to the best pizza in Denali!
There is also the Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre on-site. While we didn’t manage to take in a show, this is a popular option for families looking for hearty food, terrific music, talented performers and an Alaskan-sized helping of fun! The show tells colorful stories of the great Alaskan Gold Rush while guests enjoy an all-you-can-eat family-style meal in an authentic roadhouse.
Don’t be fooled by the term “cabin” – constructed along the banks of the Nenana River for stunning river and wilderness views, these cabins are fully furnished with a private bath, comfortable king-size bed bedding, wall-mounted TV and telephone, and were freshly updated for the 2014 season.
Smaller and more secluded than rooms at the lodge, these are perfect for couples looking for a touch of cozy solitude in a private cedar cabin. Each cabin offers simple comforts and amenities, and guests can take advantage of the BBQs and sauna located on the three riverside decks.
As we were traveling with our vehicle, Denali Park Village was convenient as it provided complimentary parking onsite. While shuttle buses which travel the 92-mile Denali Park Road leave from right outside the hotel lobby, having our own vehicle allowed us to drive into the park ourselves and explore independently of a tour.
Visitors can drive personal vehicles into the National Park as far as the Savage River at Mile 15. Travel beyond is mostly limited to tour and shuttle buses, bicycles and hikers on foot.
When traveling to Denali National Park, be sure to pack for the right weather conditions for adventure. As quickly as the terrain changes here, so can the weather. Denali Park Village recommends “while our summer climate is comfortably cool, with days in the mid-60s and chilly nights, we always recommend dressing in layers, bringing extra outerwear, and checking the forecast frequently throughout your stay.”
Visit http://denaliparkvillage.com for more information or to book your stay.
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Full Disclosure: We were guests of Denali Park Village. All opinions are our own.