We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Houston
Level Contributor
74 posts
24 reviews
Save Topic
Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

After doing a lot of research, I was going to start booking my Alaska vacation. I plan to stay two nights in the Denali area (among many other places) and I had decided to book the hotel at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge because I had a buy one night/get one night free coupon and the place looked really nice. I just found out that the hotel is by Denali State park, and not Denali National Park, which is 100 Miles further from the hotel! Has anyone stayed at this hotel and made the drive for two days to Denali National Park? I am curious how long the drive took....if it really took only 1.5hrs, or if it took a lot longer? I really want to cash in on the buy one/get one free coupon, but now I am worried about the distance from the Denali National Park. Any help would be appreciated.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
3,796 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

That's a lot of driving, 3 hrs RT !! Personally I would rather stay closer to DNP and have that 3 hrs for something fun, not "commuting". Coalminer had some great recommendations for cabins, hotels, and B&B's in Healy in a recent post today.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60826-i1068-k3309…

I'd pay more and stay in Healy or somewhere within 30 minutes. That's my preference anyway.

carol

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
15,210 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Without offending you, the biggest problem with "buy one/get one free" coupons is exactly what you are being sucked into. "I really want to get the discount, even if it is extremely inconvenient and even if I pay a ton in gas and even if I lose valuable time inside the park in a possible once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The McKinley Princess Lodge is at mile 133. Denali National Park is mile 245. So you are driving over 100 miles each way, at an average speed of under 50 miles per hour (RV's, possible photo stops if the Mountain is out, etc). Last summer I stayed at Byers Lake (closer to Denali NP than McKinley Princess, mudslides that can close the road for hours, etc). Left at 7am and didn't get to Denali until well after 9am.

You have to figure 3 hours from McKinley Princess each way to Denali NP. So you leave at 6am, get to Denali at 9am, take a 10am shuttle bus to Eielson, back at the entrance about 6-7pm, back to McKinley about 9-10pm, to start the same thing over again. This leaves no time for seeing the visitor center, the sleddog demo, the film at the WAC, perhaps driving the first 15 miles of the road in the evening to spot wildlife (especially moose), maybe rafting if that interests you, etc.

Figure 230 miles round trip x 2 = 460 miles. Figure 25 mpg so you are talking almost 20 gallons of gas x $3/gallon so right there you are cutting your lodging costs by $60 or more.

If costs are an issue, why don't you consider McKinley Creekside Cabins? They have nice cabins at reasonable prices and most if not all have at least a microwave and fridge, some have kitchenettes so you can cut your food costs a bit.

Even if there were a cancellation fee for McKinley Princess Lodge, I would pay that to not waste about 5 hours a day in commute time.

I trust you will reconsider your decision.

John

Edited: 10 January 2010, 02:30
Houston
Level Contributor
74 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Thanks everyone for your help. Its exactly what I needed to hear. I thought I had my whole trip worked out with these coupons and then this place threw me for a loop. I agree completely with what you said about the gas costs too....I am going to just suck it up and pay a little more to stay closer in...it will make for a better trip and I will never miss that little bit of money that I would have saved vs. having more time to enjoy myself at Denali. Thanks!

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
37,949 posts
45 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Just to add, that if you stay at one of our fine B&B's or even the lovely Motel Nordhaven in Healy, they include breakfast, which can just save more money. The big hotels do not provide breakfast - look at spending about $20 for breakfast for 2 people minimum.

I have stayed at the McKinley Princess, and it is a nice place, but you can only plan to stay there - it isn't even really close to Talkeetna - about a 40 minute drive. :)

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
15,210 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Definitely pick coalminer's brain on lodging near Denali. She/he lives near there and is an excellent resource in that regard.

John

Texas
Level Contributor
25 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Been reading all the posts about the "Princess" and found the information very helpful. We are from Houston and want to stay close to the Denali. What is a nice place to stay in that area? We will have SUV, so transportation is not a problem.

Thanks for any help that we can get.

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
37,949 posts
45 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Here are two sites that will give you what is mostly available in our local area for lodging. If you can give me more specifics, I would be happy to make recommendations. :)

http://www.alaskaone.com/healy/

http://denalichamber.com/

Texas
Level Contributor
25 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

We are looking for something that is Alaskan but has admenities, especially a private bath. I noticed some places have shared baths and we are not looking for anything like that. My husband is riding to Prudhoe Bay and beyond with his motorcycle buddies and then meeting me in Anchorage later. I think after that he will be looking for something nice. In Anchorage we are staying at the Crowne Plaza, for it is near the airport where we will be be traveling to and from . In Whittier I have made reservations at the Inn at Whittier. If you have any other recommendations I could sure use them. Doing a cruise out of Whittier, going to Seward and maybe Homer. I know Robert has a question about the Highway between Cantwell and Paxson, Is that a dirt road? What about the Richardson Highway, good traveling?

We are open for any suggestions. We are having difficulties with the stay at Denali which should be, I think, starting on the July 31st. Nothing is set in stone, excuse me, the motorcycle trip is. The next 10 days are open. We are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary with ths 2 part vacation.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Houston Here !!

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
37,949 posts
45 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

First off, I wouldn't stay in Whittier - I would do the cruise and stay either in Girdwood or Seward or Cooper Landing.

I have given you some websites to look at - there are several great B&B, cabins and motels in our area - just depends what you are looking for. Almost all I know have private baths - I only recommend those ones.

The Denali hwy (Cantwell to Paxson) is only partially paved - it is mostly dirt/gravel.

Texas
Level Contributor
25 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

You have been a great help. We will rethink Whittier and look into your suggestions. Any particular reason for not staying in Whittier. I have looked at the Dome Home and Touch of Wilderness, which I found on the websites you suggested. I hope to hear from them shortly. We are really looking forward to visiting your wonderful state. Planning this trip is really overwhelming for there is just so much to do and see.

Thank you for your help and suggestions.

Houston