Denali Backcountry Lodge - Exploring the Real Alaska

Accommodation Review

OK – this is the wilderness, but I was kidding about the accommodation. We were in the Denali Backcountry Lodge, which has warm rooms, comfortable beds and hot showers. Thank goodness, because it is cold now. There was a frost this morning.
Alaska Denali Backcountry Lodge Quigley Ridge
Denali Backcountry Lodge
Denali Backcountry Lodge
Where we really stayed!
Denali Backcountry Lodge - Hot Water and a Walk In Shower!
Denali Backcountry Lodge - Hot Water and a Walk In Shower!

They don’t bother with keys here – it is all part of the charm of the place.  It feels a bit odd to leave your room unlocked all day – even out here!

Meal times are set to suit the activities on offer and the animals wake up early here.  Breakfast is served from 6, hikes depart at 8. Hors d’oeuvres are at 5 and dinner is at 6. This is not a stay up or sleep late place!

All hikes have to be pre-booked the evening before and not everyone can be accommodated, so you need to plan your time well.  The reason for this is to keep the trails quiet and free from people, which is understandable.  

With some trepidation, we signed up for a guided hike to Wonder Lake today. I love hiking, but this is cold and unfamiliar territory.  I don’t usually hike armed with pepper spray! We had to sign a waiver saying we understood the dangers of hiking in this place – which could result in death. Oh great! It turned out to be a fabulous hike though.

Denali Backcountry Lodge - Fall at Wonder Lake
Fall at Wonder Lake

Flora and Fauna

The sun came up and we were soon warm walking, Forget the wildlife, I was most interested to see the mountain tundra.

Reindeer lichen, blueberries, mushrooms and alpines which caught the early morning dew in their bright red leaves. I can see why they get up so early here now!

We passed a number of very small trees – the short Summer season here means that the trees take many years to grow. The tiny tree in the photograph would probably be 50 years or so old.

Denali Backcountry Lodge Alaskan Blueberries
Alaskan Blueberries
Denali Backcountry Lodg
Dew on Mountain Tundra
Denali Backcountry Lodge 50 year old Alaskan alpine tree
50 year old alpine tree

Exploring Denali National Park with Fanny Quigley

We hiked with a guide (Jill) and Beth and Jeff, from Philadelphia and made friends very easily with them as we “trod lightly” through the rich hues of Autumn (fall) colour on the mountain side. The mountain tundra felt comfortably spongy underfoot and with the warmth of the sun on our backs, it seemed that this wilderness land was capable of being very hospitable indeed.

Overall though, I think this is a landscape that should be treated with the greatest of respect. Whilst it may feel welcoming on a sunny morning walk, it could easily become anything but. This land really belongs to the wild animals that inhabit it naturally. Humans are there by its grace and favour only and it may decide at any moment to throw them back where they came from and reclaim its peace and stillness.

Denali National Park Keep right on 'til the end of the road
Keep right on 'til the end of the road
We paid a quick visit to Fanny Quigley’s cabin in the afternoon. She gardened in this harsh landscape, growing cabbage rhubarb, potatoes and berries – scratching a living entirely off the land with one trip a yea to town for flour and sugar. She was one tough woman.
Denali Backcountry Lodge Fanny Quigley's Cabin
Fanny Quigley's Cabin

We chatted to a couple over lunch who ran a gift shop in a small town back towards the Park entrance. They had come down on the bone shaker bus for a day trip – a 13 hour round ride – for lunch? In 2 weeks, they leave for their Winter job at Disney World. They run a gift shop there too, but describe their job as “sprinkling pixie dust and spreading the magic”. Disney has obviously trained them very well!

By 8.30, I was fast asleep!

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