If you’ve ever traveled with me, you’ll know I’m all about cheap hotels. Anything to save a buck that I can better spend on food or adventure. The way I see it, a hotel is a place to sleep after a day of exploration, and unless I’m planning to spend all my time inside (which I never do) I don’t want to spend much more than $70 a night.
I actually want a camper van to eliminate hotels entirely for more local trips.
The deal with this cruise however, was that I didn’t have a say in where we went after the sea portion of the trip was complete (we were on the cruise ship for seven days, and on land the remaining four. 11 days total for this Alaskan trip.)
This was the first time I was glad I did not choose the place we stayed upon arrival in Denali, because hot damn the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge rocked my socks.
But how did we get there? We departed our cruise ship before the sun rose and drove 8 hours from Seward to Denali, where we would spend the next two days of our trip. Our vacation package included the Denali land tour, where we were able to spend a full day driving through Denali National Park.
More on that later.
This lodge/hotel/cabin/place I slept and ate and enjoyed a musical made me feel like I was 12 again going to camp. The lodges were scattered at the foot hills of GORGEOUS mountains, and felt like a mini college campus. There were lodges for sleep, lodges for eating, lodges for entertainment, and lodges for shopping.
My favorite part were the giant trees that enclosed each area, tall enough to make following the path almost like a maze.
If that wasn’t enough, there were plenty of options to go for long walks and soak in the fall colors. Did I mention September was the best time to visit and see these colors? My dad and I were able to spend one morning walking around town and submerging ourselves into the woods.
The walk to the trail area did not disappoint, the views were once again unreal.
Our first night staying in the lodge we walked down the road to an area that had a dinner show. The show was informational, sharing the story of the first men to summit Mt. Denali (previously known as Mt. Mckinley.) The show was cute, and the area surrounding the theater was cozy.
Mt. Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310′. Woof.
This lodge would be the perfect location to relax and unwind. Plenty of areas to walk and explore, and tranquil enough to spend your time on site. This is the type of location I would spend more than $70 for. It was included in our trip, but if it weren’t I’d gladly shell out the pennies to stay.
I continued to be amazed by how well planned this trip was. All the connections between land and sea were effortless for us. Literally brain off.
The lodge is connected to Princess Cruise ships, which are connected to Holland America, but you don’t have to take a cruise to stay here. They also own nearby railroad systems, but again you don’t have to take a cruise to ride them.
What a business these cruise companies have created, all owned by Carnival.
I would love to come back here one summer and spend a season working. One thing that resonated most with me about Alaska, and a lot of the people I met, is that many people arrive for a few months out of the year to work the summer season.
This speaks to my nomadic soul so, so loudly.
I’d happily slang some coffee as a barista in the dining lodge with these views. I can still see the yellow trees. Sometimes I get caught up in the societal schema that dictates what the meaning of success is. I quit my corporate job because I wanted more flexibility to travel, and my idea of success is the experiences I have under my belt – not the size of my paycheck.
This means I’d be happy to work a seasonal job fit for someone ten years my junior, because the experiences it would provide outweigh the professional world I left. The only schema we should fall prey to are the ones we set for ourselves. I’ll be back here someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Q: Would you rather come in the summer and have sunshine and blue skies, or in the fall with overcast and fall colors? Fall for me, no competition.