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Sunday, 16 November 2008

Alaska's Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge

Written by Jessica Borges
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Alaska’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, Denali Music Dinner Theater, Mt. McKinleyAlaska is known for a variety of attractions that lure in tourists year after year. Highlighted among those are the ever-popular Mt. McKinley, Denali National Park, an array of wildlife, fresh salmon, breathtaking sights and simple serenity. Each of these appeals is at your fingertips when you stay at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.


At check-in my family and I were welcomed into the main lodge by the warm scent of fresh cinnamon rolls flirting with every guest that entered through the massive log doors. Instinctively, we had to taste those rolls after we settled into our rooms. To make matters worse for our waistlines, next to the counter where the cinnamon rolls were sold was a sign advertising homemade Alaskan ice cream. It doesn’t take much convincing to get my family and me to sample such temptations.


Alaska’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, Denali Music Dinner Theater, Mt. McKinleyAside from the delicious sweets we indulged in upon arrival, the views were impossible not to get lost in. With our accommodation neatly wedged into the side of a mountain, our neighbors consisted of a mass of pine trees, an expansive cascade of mountains, some touristy shops across the street, and a fast-flowing river nearby. We were only miles from Denali National Park, home to Mt. McKinley: North America’s highest peak at a staggering 20,320 feet tall. The location of the lodge offered many opportunities to catch great views of the mountain, translating into an overload of pictures on my digital camera of what seemed like every angle humanly possible of the mountain.


Alaska’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, Denali Music Dinner Theater, Mt. McKinleyWe took advantage of this close proximity and booked a tour of Denali Park, piling into a rickety-looking school bus driven by a tour guide that picked us up at the main lodge entrance promptly at a blurry-eyed 6:00 am. She brought us 62 miles into the park that expands over a total of 6 million acres. Over the course of the 7 hour bus tour people would shout and point at something moving in the distance that often turned out to be a grizzly bear, some Dall sheep, a few foxes, caribou, and reindeer. Sprinkle in a few eagles and it made for quite an eventful day of wildlife sightings.


Midway through the tour, the bus stopped to present us a striking view of Mt. McKinley, at which point everyone went snap-happy with their cameras - myself included. The view was incredible. McKinley loomed over its sister mountains with this majestic sentiment that swiftly takes the breath away from any admirer. It is truly a sight that eludes justice in photographs.

Alaska’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, Denali Music Dinner Theater, Mt. McKinley

My family and I participated in other activities that the lodge advertised, including white water rafting, an ATV adventure, and the Denali Music Dinner Theater. The dinner show was on-site, only a few steps from the cabin my family and I stayed in. We were stuffed to the gills with all-you-can-eat salmon and ribs, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, biscuits, and coleslaw, with some angel food cake for dessert. While we ate the actors sang, danced, and performed a short play about the first two men to climb Mt. McKinley. While the food was great, the show was not all that it was hyped up to be from the brochures and the price per ticket was a bit steep. Located outside of the dinner theater, were an array of small shops (selling mostly fur products) Alaska’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park, Denali Music Dinner Theater, Mt. McKinleyin mini-log cabins nearby the beauty salon and outdoor hot tubs that overlooked the gorgeous scenery.


During the course of our stay, we had a couple of meals at the Lynx Creek Pizza & Pub, which was also a part of the lodge, and had a few slices of surprisingly good pizza. I’m reluctant to admit that at this point in our two week trip I had eaten so much salmon, crab, and other types of seafood that the sight of a plain cheese pizza made my mouth water. The lodge also hosted the King Salmon Restaurant and the Base Camp Bistro that I did not have the chance to try my fork at.


As the sun sank deeper in the sky, a short walk back to our rooms after dinner was always enjoyable. The crisp fresh air felt invigorating filling up the lungs, convincing me that the air in Alaska was significantly cleaner than that on the east coast. We’d gather around the tables clustered on the long stretch of wooden patio outside our rooms for drinks, snacks, and socializing to unwind from a long day of tourist-filled adventures before retiring to bed. This combination of a cozy, friendly environment and the overall desirable location for guests to see many of Alaska’s great sights made the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge an ideal place to stay with my extended family. Our overall positive experience made it easy to recommend the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge to any future Alaskan travelers.

© Jessica Borges

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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