Denali Journals

Denali- The Great One (Mt. McKinley

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An August 1999 trip to Denali by Linda Kaye

Princess Wilderness Lodge Photo, Denali, Alaska More Photos
Quote: We thought the North Pole was the top of the world but we were wrong. A point 22,000 feet above the tundra in central Alaska---that’s the "top" of the world---Denali, the Great One also known as Mt. McKinley.

Denali- The Great One (Mt. McKinley

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Overview

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Taking the Alaskan Railroad from Anchorage to Denali, a jet boat ride on a “braided” river to see a gold mining camp, rafting on the Nenana River, a 13-hour bus tour to Kantishna, seeing bears, moose, caribou, and dall sheep, seeing Mt. McKinley in its full glory, and having 16 hours of daylight to do it all —THIS IS ALASKA. Quick Tips: We went in late August/early September which was near the end of the season. There were few tourists remaining so there was never a line for anything. Best of all, the shops were all getting ready to close and EVERYTHING was 50% off. What a shopper’s paradise !!! In Denali, the lodges, stores and restaurants all close in Mid September and do not reope...Read More

Denali Windsong Lodge

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Hotel

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We found that accommodations were quite expensive in Alaska and that most of the Lodges would easily accommodate 4 adults. Since we were traveling with friends, this was a great opportunity to save a few dollars by sharing one unit. We spent four nights at the Denali Windsong Lodge. The unit was spacious, had plenty of closet space and was very comfortable. The total cost for all four persons was $140.00 per night. The town of Denali was quite small and everything was within walking distance including shops, a playhouse and restaurants. The lodge employees were very helpful in finding us “just the right tour.” All the tour packages included transportation from the Lodge to the beginnin...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 22, 2000

Denali Windsong Lodge
Denali Highway
Denali, Alaska

Princess Wilderness Lodge

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Restaurant

Princess Wilderness Lodge Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
The Princess Wilderness Lodge, owned by the Princess Cruise Lines, was within walking distance of the Windsong. One morning, we walked to their very elegant restaurant for breakfast. The menu was quite extensive, but I finally settled on Reindeer sausage, eggs, biscuits and coffee. Our table was at the window overlooking deep gorge, with the Nenana River below. We could see the rafters on the river. The price for breakfast averaged about $10.00 pp and was well worth it.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 22, 2000

Princess Wilderness Lodge
Denali Highway
Denali, Alaska

Strange Things Done in the Midnight Sun

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Story/Tip

Christmas in August ? Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
One of our tours began at the Princess Lodge. Since we were a little early, we went inside to the Lobby and did we get a surprise. It was August 25th. The entire Lodge was decorated for CHRISTMAS, The staff was dressed from Christmas and everyone was singing Christmas carols. Santa Clause was there.

It seems that years ago when the Lodge first opened the staff decided that since they are closed from Mid-September to May, they would just celebrate Christmas on the 25th of August. I even got to take a picture with Santa- something I haven’t done in many, many years.

The Music of Denali

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Story/Tip

The Music of Denali Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
The Princess Wilderness Lodge Dinner Theatre presents a musical called the Music of Denali. As you step into the building we are immediately transported back to the gold mining days of the 1800. Everyone is in costume of the period. We were seated at a table with two other couples (total of 8 people) and the “all you can eat” meal of baked salmon, potatoes, barbecue ribs were served in old tin pie plates- family style. We had a great opportunity to visit with the other people and find out what they had been doing. After the wonderful baked apple dessert was served, all the waiters and waitress moved to the stage for the performance. It was a great show about the history of Denali- the Great One,...Read More

Rafting on the Nenana River

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Story/Tip

Rafting on the Nenana Photo, Denali, Alaska
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Probably the hardest part of this rafting trip was getting into the “drysuits”. These are one-piece rubber suits, from your toes to your neck, all zipped up tight to protect you from the cold water. The trip was approximately 2 hours and in most places was rather smooth. There were a few times when it got a little fast, but nothing compared to white water rafting in Colorado. We really appreciated our suits when we got splashed with the freezing water on some of the rapids. Our guide was experienced and very knowledgeable about the area. The price of the tour was $37.00 pp. The tour company provided transportation from our lodge to the drop-off and pick-up points on the river.

Jet Boat & Gold Mining Camp

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Story/Tip

Jet Boating Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
"There is gold in them thar hills" and according to the REAL gold miners, it’s the tourist dollar. We traveled to gold mining camp on by jet boat on a braided river. First, let me explain what a braided river is. Imagine a braid (like a hair braid) – now imagine a large, flat area and the "braid" is water only 4 inches, and the empty spaces are similar to sand bars. It is the job of the jet boat captain to make his way through the braid without hitting the sand bar, and to make it more complicated, the "braid" moves from day to day depending on the water flow. ALSO, you are going 40 miles per hour weaving back and forth over this great expanse . WHAT A THRILL. At the camp,...Read More

Trip to Kantishna

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Story/Tip

Kantishna Roadhouse Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
Kantishna is located at the end of the road in the Denali National Park (about an 80 mile drive). We had a great driver named Mike. He drove a typical school-type bus and because there were only about 25 people on board, each of us had a window with a terrific view of the park. Mike was more than willing to stop the bus if any of us spotted bears, moose, caribou or other wildlife. In all, we saw 13 bears, several moose and caribou and countless dall sheep. According to Driver Mike, only 2% of all people who visit the park actually get to see Mt. McKinley in its full glory, and not covered with clouds. We had the most spectacular view and realized WE were included in that 2%. Words c...Read More