First off I must say that the experience of Denali, the 95 mile bus trip in (a whole adventure in itself), the glorious surroundings are a MUST DO in your bucket-list. There is NO PLACE on earth as unique, as quiet, as grand as Denali. The only disappointing part of our trip was the lodge itself. By advertising, we were led to believe that this is the ONLY lodge inside Denali. WRONG! There are three lodges at the end of the 95 mile road. Do your research before you go - there may be better options than Denali Backcountry Lodge. Some other people mentioned that the Kantishna Lodge may be a better option.
In my opinion, I would compare Denali Lodge to any other national park type lodge. The rooms are ok, the food is ok, the staff was ok. Nothing about this facility stands out as unique. You are paying a first-class price strictly for the experience - not the food or facility. I was actually taken aback by the staff when we mentioned the low quality of the food. Their answer was that it was difficult to get decent food this far from civilization. Well, our answer was to take a long hard look at Kennicott Glacier Lodge in McCarthy, Alaska. They are even more remote than Denali Backcountry Lodge and their food & facilities are 10 times better! It certainly can be done but you have to have an owner that is willing to do the upgrades and hire the right people.
Here are my suggestions:
One: Food. Get rid of the standard National Park garbage and bring in a real chef. You have regular air service and daily bus service to the lodge - at the prices you charge, you can afford to bring in more fresh items. Hire a real chef! We arrived after a 9 hour bus ride (yes 9 hours, thanks to a broken bus), to a second rate chicken dinner that was almost not worth eating. Very disappointing....Breakfast was nothing to speak of either.
Two: General Facilities. Put more rock down on the road and pathways so your not walking constantly through mud. You get mud on your shoes then you have to walk on a raised wood walkway where you can easily slip and fall. It rains in Denali, we get it. Make your facility more rain friendly! Also, make your "dry room" larger. Again, it rains in Denali. Everything gets wet and there are NO laudry facilities. You need more hanger space in the dry room....
Three: Buses. Have a repair plan in effect! We broke down after about 2 hours driving into the park. Guess what, the driver didn't know what to do except tell a passing bus to let the hotel know we broke down when they get back to the entrance. 2 hours back to the entrance, 2 more hours to rescue us - 4 hour wait? Are you kidding me? Did anyone ever hear about radios? Some of the park buses had them! What about sat phones? If that doesn't work, what about a cooperative plan to allow us to travel on another bus if this emergency were to happen again. We had lots of buses, many only half full, passing us and the driver would not let anyone off our bus to try to get on another bus. If it wasn't for a german tourist on the bus who rigged up a fix, our bus would still be sitting on the side of the road. Hats off to german ingenuity! At least the company could have a PLAN.....We were about 2.5 to 3 hours late getting to the lodge, but at least we made it....
To the hotel - you have such a unique place here, it's a shame you don't go the extra mile. Don't live off the fact your in a National Park and people will come no matter what! Make the effort - make this place truly unique!
All in all, it was an adventure. I wasn't expecting much when we got there but after seeing some incredible backcountry lodges in other areas of Alaska where the service was simply outstanding, I was disappointed in this place. Would I go back? I love Denali and want to return soon but I would try another place before I went back to Denali Backcountry Lodge.
Rooms are small and their isn't a whole lot to do when it rains. Get a large room if you can af...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC