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Expertise Creating an Intimate and Rounded Experience
The lodges are family owned and operated, and it’s clear that the comradery of a family is widespread through the team that works there. A step above the typical tour buses, the lodge’s private buses are equipped to navigate the park road and provide guests with a little extra comfort. From the onset, you’ll know that you’re venturing to a place few travel in the care of experts.
Holders of a Historic Operator permit, the lodge’s naturalist guides are entrusted to travel through the park and guide guests in the wilderness heart of Denali. Each day a selection of naturalist guided outings is offered. Your client can create his or her own adventure ranging from a leisurely foray, a moderate hike, or a more advanced hike. Biking, canoeing and even fishing are options for those looking to explore the park independently.
After a day of exploring the park, both lodges offer the perfect setting for relaxing in one of the worlds most pristine landscapes. After dinner, educational programs are offered to enrich the visitor’s understanding of the sub-arctic and arctic regions.
The Explorer’s Dilemma
Camp Denali and the North Face Lodge are both situated on private landholdings, about one mile apart, surrounded by the six million acres of beautiful Denali National Park. With some slight differences in the style of accommodations, both lodges are operated by the same team and offer the same daily adventures. So how does your client decide between the two?
The most notable difference between accommodations is the bathroom facilities. Camp Denali features adorable and clean outhouses, each with their own private view out into Denali National Park. Seriously, a postcard perfect picture of the park while on the privy! Even the pickiest latrine selector will enjoy the outhouse experience at Camp Denali. Though I hate to dwell…I will say, that if the outhouse is the biggest concern for a client give me a call and I will personally offer the full outhouse rundown. If it’s a deal breaker, North Face Lodge features rooms (rather than cabins) inclusive of private bathroom facilities for each room.
The first savory notes of the adventure let you know you’re in for a culinary treat throughout your adventure. The picnic dinner served in-route to the lodges starts the experience off on a note like no other tour offering. Let’s just say, it’s not your typical picnic.
Meals at the lodges are handcrafted, utilizing greens grown onsite, bread and pastries baked in the lodge’s own kitchen and locally sourced ingredients combine to make a phenomenal culinary infusion in the wilderness.
Dining experiences at the lodges are an opportunity to connect with fellow travelers as each starts with finding your seat assigned by the lodge staff. A regular rotation of dining companions enhances the experience. By the second day at Camp, visitors feel like they’re walking in to have a family meal.
On a Personal Note
I stayed for a 3-night stay during the 2017 summer season at the Camp Denali cabins. Camp Denali is comprised of 18 hand-crafted cabins, each authentic with its own history and story. It is one of the most fun ‘glamping’ experiences I’ve ever had. Each cabin has a wood stove with all the necessary materials (and instructions as well as assistance if needed) to have a cozy fire. A sink basin in the cabin allows for washing up, using the fresh water from a spigot just outside your front door. That water can also be heated on your cabin’s propane hot plate, great for freshening up or for a hot cup of tea.
The quilts that adorned the beds are made by the staff and really give each cabin a unique character. I enjoyed asking the staff what their favorite cabin was; each would reply that they loved the quilt in one cabin or another, making it their favorite.
While a short stay is often just right for travelers with limited time, the three days go by quickly. I was just beginning to feel like I was really connecting with the park and the routine of Camp when it was time to say good-bye. If your clients are able, true Denali enthusiasts, or simply looking for a connection with nature; I highly recommend a 5 or 7-night stay.
When to Book
Both lodges tend to fill up fast. North Face Lodge, being a great fit for adventurous guest with more limited mobility or simply guests uncomfortable with an outhouse approach, can book up to a year in advance. If these experiences are the right fit for your clients, we recommend pursuing the booking at least 6 months in advance.