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All reviews the bus day trippers gold panning cold cuts suspension bridge opportunity to meet drying room mountain biking served family style denali backcountry great pictures animal sightings two nights bike ride the river mosquito netting six hours
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Reviewed 20 September 2012

My good friend and I have been planning a photography trip to Denali National Park for some 10 years now. Well, last September, it was time to put up or shut up so, we contacted Karen and Heather at Alaska Denali Tours and booked our 4-night stay at Denali Backcountry Lodge. I wish I could remember all of the names of the staff who were so helpful but everyone, including Tara, Mary, Mike and Anthony were all wonderful! In addition, we enjoyed the bus drivers Jim, Dave and the two Barrys. Yes, we rode the bus more than once. It is the best way to see the animals! The staff went out of their way to make sure that we enjoyed every aspect of our stay. The food was excellent and dining staff friendly and efficient. The cabin that we stayed in was very nice and had more than enough room for the two of us, including all of our photography equipment. We were even able to watch sunrise at Wonder Lake with a full view of Denali. To say it was awesome would be a major understatement.

I want to thank all of teh Denali Backcountry Lodge staff for making this a very memorable trip. I will be back!

Date of stay: August 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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5  Thank john98026
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 September 2012

It takes a while to get to the Backcountry Lodge but it's worth it. If you go, don't go with the minimum stay of 1-2 days ... opt for an additional day. If you have 2-night stay, the first day you will arrive too late to do anything other than dinner and unpack and after your 2nd night, you'll be getting up very early for the shuttle back to the entrance of the park. That will leave only one day for activities and if you are going to the Backcountry Lodge for activities, you will definistely want a second day there. It's worth the expense.

The activities range from sit-around-and-do-nothing in a beautiful setting (there is a comfortable, well-stocked lounge) to casual guided or on-your-own hikes and extends to the more adventurous'challenging guided hikes that go to spectacular vistas. The guides are personal and well-informed, pacing their hikes to fit the group (limited to 11 people, so sign up early when you get there). The lodge provides mountain bikes, but you'll have a healthy workout getting to Wonder Lake (if you're not an avid biker). The meals are provided in the fee and they are truly spectacular and well-prepared. The lodge's staff members are extremely helpful and quick to coordinate the experiences that you wish to comprise your Backcountry experience.

The shuttle bus drivers are informative and great at spotting wildlife on the trips to and from the lodge. They are able to balance the need to keep on schedule with taking the necessary pauses for wildlife viewing opportunities that come along for their riders. The trip over the narrow winding road can be bumpy but the scenery is definitely worth it, especially in early September when the fall colors come alive on the tundra.

The rooms at the Lodge are spacious and comfortable. Service was great. They were quiet and private and if you are fortunate enough to be able to get a cabin overlooking Moose Creek (I definitely recommend that), you'll find a deck with steps leading down to the creek just a few feet from your door. Meals are family style and that provides a wonderful opportunity to meet with others and discuss the day's accomplishments as well as share photos and stories about what was seen and done. There is a bar on site and appetizers each evening provide another opportunity for socializing.

The Backcountry Lodge arrangements can be made by Alaska Denali Travel and they are delightful to work with. Friendly, helpful, and responsive, they were able to seamlessly coordinate numerous aspects of the trip (train tickets, rafting, car rental, hotel arrangements prior to/after the Lodge experience). Every one of the arrangements was handled perfectly, with tickets accurate and available for every stop of the tour. Their recommendations were right on target, they answered every question I had (including more than one stupid questions), and they were able to make adjustments for several changes that we made during the planning phase of the trip.

I don't normally utilize tour packages, prefering to make all arrangements on my own, but I can't say enough about how pleased I was with this packaged (yet customized) experience. It was a perfect blend of pre-arrangements and sponteneity ... I have already recommended this experience to others and would not hesitate to once again make the journey to the Backcountry Lodge if I should ever be fortunate enough to return to Alaska. It was a memorable experience beyond my wildest expectations.

Room tip: The rooms overlooking Moose Creek are scenic, private, and simply wonderful!!!! Try to schedule a minimum of two full days to fully appreciate the full range of activities available at the Lodge.
Date of stay: September 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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8  Thank MichaB30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 September 2012

Our weather was only so-so, also, but did not hinder our appreciation for the beauty of the country side. The ride into Denali was glorious with plenty of stops and Pete certainly gave us a lot of information (and chocolate chip cookies). The cabins are clean and comfortable. We were not on the river and I would spend the extra to get a premium room. The food is excellent and plentiful.

We started one of the moderate hikes in the rain the next day, but it only last 20 minutes. The hike to Wickersham Dome that another of our party was taking was called off after an hour because the snow was coming in sideways! Timmy was our guide on this hike and he can tell you ANYTHING about the plants, lichen and moss in the area. He was also our guide on the hike to Fannie Quigley's cabin and, again, had a lot of information to share. All the staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the area.

We only stayed two nights and that just isn't enough; stay at least three nights so you can take advantage of all the Lodge has to offer.

Because of the snow, the landscape on the way out was totally different at the higher elevations and we had some great bear and caribou sightings. Don't be afraid of the six-hour ride in/out of the park; it went by in the blink of an eye.

I am so glad we did not miss this experience.

Date of stay: September 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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6  Thank mythfortunesmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2012

The Denali Backcountry Lodge tries hard to make its guests’ trips to Denali perfect. The management of the Lodge is relatively new, so some of the older TripAdvisor Reviews may be less relevant. The food was very good. The staff was competent, eager and able to help with anything. The bus driver and hike guides were quite knowledgeable about nature matters. The setting, beside a rushing stream, is attractive and peaceful. The cabins are modest, not luxurious, with small bathrooms mostly seen in older motels; most people will not be spending much time in their cabins, but going on walks and hikes. Even if you just want to rest, there are verandas near the babbling stream.

If you are cost conscious, you may be wondering if the Lodge is worth the high price compared to staying outside the park and bussing in. This lodge and several in the same Kantishna area are said to have very high expenses because it is costly to transport everything to their remote locations within the Park. Our rate for a couple in the reduced rate Sept season was over $700 a night. The Alaska.org website has a good list of the considerations relevant to staying in or outside the Park at http://alaska.org/denali/advice-stay-inside-or-outside.htm. The primary advantage is that there is only one bus trip (each trip into the Park is usually a matter of hours) required, irrespective of how many days you spend in the Park. Elaborating on one of the points made on the Alaska.org site, a stay in the Park, particularly multiple nights, can provide more opportunities to view Mt McKinley (Denali), which is often obscured by clouds. The Alaska Range, including McKinley, is a magnificent sight, at least when covered with snow. A factor not emphasized on that website is that the ecosystem deeper in the Park is different than that near the entrance. The landscape, for some significant distance from the entrance, seemed much like what is seen in the north woods of the lower forty-eight states; whereas, in the backcountry, there is thick tundra, which was a beautiful array of colors when we were there in the Fall. Staying in the Park provides opportunities to walk/hike through and have close encounters with this landscape. But you may find ways to achieve this while staying at accommodations outside the Park. For example, it may be that the ranger-led stroll and the alpine hike (http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/walks-and-hikes.htm) from the Eielson Visitor Center, at Mile 66 on the Park Road, can provide much the same experience.

Date of stay: September 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Bootster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2012

Josh from RochesterNY is spot on in his review of the Denali Backcountry Lodge. Despite having so-so weather, we, too, had an amazing experience there. The rooms were very clean and comfortable and the meals tasty and ample. We had great hikes with guides Mikey, Chris, and Timmy, all of whom were very knowledgeable and fun. Such beautiful scenery and no one else on the trails. I highly recommend the Denali Backcountry Lodge!

Date of stay: September 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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4  Thank 10slover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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