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“Could not recommend”

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Denali Backcountry Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Could not recommend”
Reviewed 18 August 2009

I'm sorry to say but the best part of our 4 days in Denali NP was the bus ride in and out. The rooms were adequate but the food was terrible. The entree each night was a salad bowl put on the table for the guests to help themselves and the main was a choice of a vegitarian meal or one other meal. Again the food was placed on the table for you to serve yourself. The lunch was always processed cold meat and salads to make your own sandwiches.
The staff in the main a young russian girls and cannot communicate.
The evening natualist shows are videos.
The general feeling is that the lodge is always gearing up to please the day bus load of luncheon guests or the evening bus of new guests. Once they arrive they are ignored as the lodge is preparing for the next influx and so on. In fact none receives good service.
For the price most dissapointing.
The NP and the self guided hikes were wonderful, but this had nothing to do with the Backcountry Lodge.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Gpgrjg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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305 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (81)
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English first
NY Metro
Level Contributor
33 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 July 2009

We stayed at the Backcountry Lodge for two nights as part of a one-week self-assembled land tour before a cruise. The 7+hour bus ride through the park to the lodge was a journey in itself. We were fortunate to have a nearly clear day in which Denali was fully visible all the way in; the previous day (in late June) was a snow storm. Our driver had extensive experience hiking the park and was knowledgeable about the local history, flora and fauna and told good nature stories. We saw golden eagles, grizzlies with cubs, moose, Dahl sheep, mountain goats...pretty much everything except lynx and wolves. We quickly learned that you must be very patient and have good binoculars to observe wildlife in their natural surroundings.

The accommodations are Spartan but nice. Given the location, the extreme weather variation and the need to leave no environmental impact, expecting the Hyatt is unreasonable. The food was freshly prepared and honest but not extraordinary in quantity or quality. Again, given that everything must be bussed in at great expense and time, it isn't reasonable to expect 3 star Parisian dining. The kitchen did permit our teenage boys to eat at both dinner seatings one night, which I thought was quite generous.

The main point of staying at such an accommodation should be to get up close and personal with the Alaska backcountry and here the Lodge excels. You will likely get wet and muddy and you will be bit by mosquitoes (the Alaska state bird), but where else can you hike over tundra, passing fresh moose tracks, then look back to sea a moose cow and calf in the stream you just crossed? Put on hip boots and wade up the stream that was the epicenter of one of the gold rushes. After lighting a fire in the fireplace, the kids sat in the screened in gazebo in the twilight at midnight. One guest was catching releasing trout in a shallow pool in the stream right outside the dining lodge.

This experience will be remembered for a long time as something very special. With the cell phones, ipods and laptops turned off, calmness creeps up on you. You develop a great respect for the natives and early miners who lived here year round.

In America, we celebrate the frontier in our literature and films. Here you get a taste of the real thing. Go if you possibly can.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank MtKiscoKid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Orchards, Washington
Level Contributor
55 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 July 2009

Spent 3 nights (4 days) here June/July and it was the highlight of our cruise plus independent land tour of Alaska. The guided hikes were great, especially as the weather was perfect. Denali was out three of four days. Meals were excellent and the staff was very helpful and very unobtrusive. Late afternoon visits to Wonder Lake were wonderful (sorry). Saw lots of wildlife: moose, bear, and lotsa little stuff. Rides into and out of the park were informative and entertaining

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mark D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 July 2009

I did a lot of research on whether to stay in one of the expensive backcountry lodges or stay near the Denali entrance. After reading several reviews, I decided on the Denali Backcountry Lodge. First, the booking staff were terrific. I got a discount by booking directly with the lodge and mentioning the "internet discount". Secondly, the Backcountry Lodge has its own bus that picks us up at Denali Cabins (or the train depot) and takes us on a guided 7 hour journey into Denali and then to Kantishna, mile 96 into the park. And the main reason I chose the Backcountry Lodge was that the price per person per night included meals, snacks, guided hikes, mountain bike rentals, fishing equipment, mosquito nets and spray, and gold panning supplies.
The Backcountry Lodge met all my expectations and more. The 7 hour bus ride into Kantishna was long, but insightful and full of fanciful facts and figures from our bus driver Barry. My brain was going to burst with all the unending data he pelted us with. Wildlife was abundant. Drinks, snacks, and bathroom breaks at the rest stops were adequate. The views of the Alaskan ridge were beautiful despite still no view of Mt McKinley. As Barry said, "some people go from cradle to grave without ever seeing such a sight".
We finally arrived at the lodge at 8pm and were fed a pleasant dinner family-style. Here was our opportunity to meet other travelers and sign up for our morning hikes, either casual or moderate intensity. Tara, the assistant manager gave a short orientation of the premises and activities. 9:30pm was a short nature film. We were so tired and weary from the bus ride that we went to bed by 10:30pm (still daylight, though). The cabin room was exceptionally clean, had private bathroom with shower and tub, 3 speed ceiling fan, dresser, writing desk., and electric heater. Hot water for the shower was abundant. The toilet was a little slow to flush, but please understand that the entire lodge is dependent on well water and septic tank. It has all the "basic" essentials for comfort; so please don't expect the Four Seasons. The only complaint is that the walls are a bit thin; and when the neighbors wake up at 5am to catch their 6am bus back to the Denali entrance you'll wake up as well.
In the morning, the moderate hike was known as the Quigley Ridge hike, about 4 miles total and highest altitude about 3000 ft. Not terribly strenuous for an experienced hiker, but could be challenging for the beginner or really out-of-shape individuals. Our guide was J.D. who was very knowledgable about native plants and geology. When we reached the top of the ridge, we were lucky to have perfect cloudless views of the north face of Mt McKinley. How marvelous it was! During lunch, we met Sara, the lodge's owner. She is a former registered nurse from India. Her husband is an electrical engineer. The bought the Lodge in 1992 and refurbished everything. It was nice seeing the owner ensuring quality control and overseeing the construction for the new additions to the lodge. The afternoon was filled with mountain biking along the gravel road from Wonder Lake. This was unguided, so we explored the area and spotted a moose. We were just 10 feet from it as it crossed the road!
I wish we had booked 3 nights instead of 2 because the weather was so pleasant while staying in Kantishna. Since we planned to stay only 2 nights we arranged a flight back to the Denali Depot with Kantishna Air Taxi. The airport runway is just a few yards from the Lodge. The alternate route home would be to take the 6am 6-hour bus ride back to the depot. I would highly recommend the air taxi if you feel the bus ride would be redundant or too exhausting, or if the weather is clear and you want great pictures of Mt. McKinley. It costs about $200 per person (if negotiated well), lasts 1 hour, and includes a scenic fly-by Mt Mckinley.
Overall, a pleasant and enjoyable stay at the Lodge. Expensive but worth it for the convenience and basic essentials of living comfortably. All the staff were young, energetic, friendly and helpful. Great scenery all around because the lodge sits right on Moose Creek. [no views of Mt McKinley from the lodge unless you go 5 miles to Wonder Lake]. Very cozy atmosphere.

Stayed June 2009, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank groverPennsylvania
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
St. Paul, MN
Level Contributor
43 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 June 2009

This is the last of 3 collections of cabins/lodges at the end of the road into Denali. It takes a long time to get here on the bus, but the drivers are good about stopping for any/all animal sightings of which there are many (bring a good zoom lens). All the buses allowed in the park are modified school buses. The cabins are clean, big, cozy, but despite the price, this is not a luxurious place. Food is of good quality and quantity. All served family style. There is hiking directly from the lodge that you can do as a group or on your own. You can not see Mt. McKinley from the lodge as it is down in a valley. If you take what they call a "moderate" level hike (up about 1600 feet, 4 miles), there is a panoramic view of the range. If you want guided hikes, you might want to call to see how booked the lodge is. When we were there it was not at all crowded and many guided hikes had to be cancelled as Denali NP requires 4 people plus a guide for guided hikes (apparently this is for safety as bears won't attack a group of this size or bigger). This was fine with me as I was willing to head out without a guide. We caught 3 arctic grayling in the creek. We saw a moose across the creek. Kids had fun gold-panning. Many paw prints on our hikes. We stayed 3 nights which gave us 2 full days to explore which was enough. They have mosquito netting, but I was very glad I had purchased hats with netting at REI before heading in as the netting was of better quality and with better visibility. It's hard to describe how thick the mosquitos are on some of the hikes (not so much at the lodge itself). Hardest part is getting up at 5:30 on the departure day to get loaded on the bus which aims to get back to the visitor center in time for the noon train to Anchorage.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ilovetotravel63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Colorado Springs, CO
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 June 2009

Not worth the cost.
Rooms are spartan but acceptable.
Food was marginal - only offer one entree for dinner.
"Naturalists" were students - literature leads one to believe they would be professionals.
"Evening programs" were generally video tapes.
Many of the staff were foreign students with marginal english skills.
Best part were the narrated bus trips in and out.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank coloradopapa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Arlington, VA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 November 2008

We reserved an "upgraded" King cabin room for our 4 night stay because the lodge was completely booked. Three nights would have been sufficient time to spend there. The room was near what appeared to be a septic field - we ran the bathroom fan during our entire stay to remove the ordor from our the room - very unpleasant.
The food was adequate - it was nice that coffee/tea was available in the lodge dining room at all times.
The guided hikes were the best part of our stay - they offered easy and moderate hikes each day. The guides were very knowledgeable and friendly.
It was very expensive for a smelly room (!) and I would suggest visitors exploring other lodge options in the Park.

Stayed August 2008
Helpful?
3 Thank RCDArlington_VA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Denali Backcountry Lodge

Property: Denali Backcountry Lodge
Address: Mile 95 Denali Park Road, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Alaska > Denali National Park and Preserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 Hotels in Denali National Park and Preserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Denali Backcountry Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 42
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
When planning your Alaska vacation don't settle for just another Denali hotel! Journey with us winding through the Alaska Range, deep into the heart of the Denali National Park, with opportunities to see Denali's famed wildlife: Grizzlies, Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep, Wolves, and Eagles. At the very end of the Denali Park road, past Wonder Lake, you'll find a unique enclave in the park known as Kantishna. This area is home to Denali Backcountry Lodge. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Denali Backcountry Hotel Denali National Park And Preserve
Hotel Denali Backcountry
Denali Backcountry Lodge Alaska/Denali National Park And Preserve

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