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“Yes, it's worth it!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of North Face Lodge

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North Face Lodge
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Post Office Box 67, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755   |  
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ks
Top Contributor
205 reviews 205 reviews
59 hotel reviews
Reviews in 80 cities Reviews in 80 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
“Yes, it's worth it!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2013

It is so special to stay within Park Denali, and if you prefer to have a toilet en suite, then mortgage your home and make reservations a year ahead of time for North Face Lodge.

Yes, it's worth it!

The location and staff are incredible. The hikes/outings were fitted to everyone's interests and walking abilities. The food was sooo good.

I'm sure Denali is beautiful all year round. We were there in the fall and it is magical.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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70 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
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English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2013

I would rate the North Face Lodge a "10." Set within spectacular Denali National Park, North Face Lodge is an incredible place to stay. Everything, from the drive in through the accommodations to the food and the activities, is so well thought out. And then there is the staff! What a remarkable group of young people. Our "hosts," Jonathan and Juliette, were warm and accessible. The naturalist/guides were knowledgable and informative. We stayed as part of a Lindblad extension with our wonderful guide Elise. We thought that it was too much to ask for that our stay would match our incredible cruise,but it did! Denali is a remarkable place and to truly appreciate it I would strongly recommend staying at the North Face Lodge, a unique and most enjoyable experience.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2013

North Face Lodge sits almost at the end of 92-mile road in Denali National Park. Access is via converted school buses that are driven by Lodge staff who also just happen to be the naturalist guides for the walks and hikes that are at the heart of the experience here. The lodge was the second stop on a high school graduation trip – a present to my niece Kristen. For those of you traveling with teenagers (and tweens) -- be prepared for the horror that ensues when they realize that they’ve been cut off from the outside world! My niece actually found – and then asked about – the hidden network that the Lodge uses to conduct its business and that lodge staff use to stay connected with the outside world. For me, on the other hand, being disconnected was pure bliss.

North Face is a Spartan place as befits a lodge that is off the grid. Don’t expect air conditioning or fancy toiletries. Do expect good food, mountain views, knowledgeable guides, and activities for almost all levels (more on that “almost” in a bit). Travelers who land here are looking to see pristine Alaska, hike on the tundra (there are two kinds), and escape the crowds that are rumored to swarm at points closer to the entrance to the park. If they are lucky, Mount Denali (or Mount McKinley, depending on whom you are talking to) will come out from behind the clouds. We were very lucky – the mountain was out on our first full day in the park – reflected in all its glory in both Wonder Lake and Reflection Pond.

If I were in charge of North Face, there are two things I would change – particularly given the long days that mark the Alaskan summer. The first has to do with the “almost” that I mentioned earlier. The lodge offers three options when it comes to activity choices – foray (very easy adventures with a lot of on/off of buses or smaller vans and good for photographers, those with limited mobility, etc.), medium (3-5 mile hikes that may include difficult terrain), and hard (destination hikes where it’s not so much about the scenery but more about the getting there). The problem is with the “easy” and the “medium” or moderate options. One is all too often too easy and the other can carry a risk of a fairly huge jump in difficulty -- particularly when walking on the Alaskan tundra (think of it as walking on a giant sponge. I’d like to see some 2-3 mile hikes in the mix of offerings or be

The second has to do with the timing of activities and meals. Although the hot breakfast was really yummy, I would have much preferred to get out on the tundra given that animals are most active in the early morning and later in the day. At North Face, breakfast is at 7:30 am and you leave for hikes and forays between 9:00 and 10:00 am. I just didn’t get it – I’d traveled all this way to see not just the scenery but also the animals. Although we did spot moose and caribou and a lone grizzly, I can’t help but think we might have seen more if we’d been out and about a bit earlier in the day.

The lodge has mosquito headgear (a must), rain gear, backpacks, gaiters and trekking poles available to borrow. Sometimes they’ll mix folks who are staying up at Camp Denali together with you depending on who is interested in what activity.

Bottom Line? If you have a hankering to go deep into Denali, North Face is a good option. The naturalist guides are great and they make an effort to tailor what you see to your expectations. It can feel a bit regimented at times and be prepared for the rotating breakfast and dinner companions (they rotate you so you have different dining companions every night). Rooms are functional and clean (the aforesaid naturalist guides double as housekeeping staff during the guest changeovers). Definitely spend time talking to the staff – they know a lot about the flora and fauna.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ashland, Illinois
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2013

North Face Lodge is truly one of a kind. The staff treats you like family and are superb in making your visit worthwhile. You will have about one staff person for every two or three guests. Most of the staff have at least masters degrees in the natural sciences. As they guide you around Denali, both their experience and their love of the park shows.
Meals are gourmet including the picnic lunches you take on your hiking adventures. Btw, they offer guided hikes for all physical abilities--from a 2000 ft. elevation rise to "forays" for photographers.
We certainly enjoyed our fellow travelers too. Most were like minded as us--there for the adventure and wanting to learn more about the unbelievable scenery we have entered.
I know it was pricey, but it was worth every penny. I truly wish to thank the North Face folks for an experience we will never forget.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arkansas
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2013

We booked a room a the Denali North Face Lodge thinking that for $3400.00 for a basically 2 1/2 day stay we would be getting a nice place to stay out in the wilderness. First, the ride to the lodge is 90 miles, some of which is over a dirt road cut into the mountains called Polycrome Pass with no guard rails, lots of road equipment, hairpin turns looking straight down-very scary. They don't tell you up front but the ride in is considered day 1. The picnic food on the way there was good for being hauled around but the next day my husband a diaria so bad that he had to stay in bed the entire stay. The hotel itself looks like an outdated Motel 8 with notes on the wall not to get toothpaste or contact solution on their towels as they will have to replace them. Well for that kind of money-they should be able to afford a few towels! The room is hot with no AC in the summer. The beds are small unless you're lucky enough to get one with a double. Wish we had only did the bus ride in and back out again. On the bright side the food in the dining room was good but the staff decide whom you will be sitting with each night.

Room Tip: If you are a light sleeper try to get the double bed rooms.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Westerville, OH
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
44 hotel reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

There really is nothing that I can add that other reviewers have not already mentioned. North Face Lodge should be on everyone's bucket list.

We were glad that we went for a special emphasis weekend. The only down side to it was that we did not have enough time to do everything that we wanted to do. (Ex. we didn't get to canoe on Wonder Lake.)

It isn't like anyone forced us to stay in for the evening program- in fact, if we had gone canoeing we would have missed an amazing presentation. Life is all about trade offs.

If we were to do it over again, we would have stayed for 4 nights. We definitely could have used one more day. We fell in love with the park and with lodge.

It made me feel sorry for those who only see Denali from a seat in a bus.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

We always like staying in the National Parks and were drawn to Camp Denali/North Face Lodge because of the great reviews and we were not disappointed – in fact, it exceeded our expectations.

We ultimately chose the Lodge over Camp Denali because of the in-room bath/showers and were very glad we did. We visited the Camp while we were there and it is very very nice -- just that the long walk to the bathroom and even longer walk to the showers was more than we wanted to deal with. The staff, guides, food, amenities are all the same at the Lodge & Camp. If you plan on going to the Lodge, try to get room 15 – it is the only room for more than 2 people (holds 3-4) and by far has the most space and best view of Mt. McKinley…not to mention it’s the coolest on hot days because of the larger room and many windows.
What makes the Lodge truly unique is the camaraderie between the guests in such a short period of time. Whether it’s the long bus ride together or dinning rotation or hiking together – you really fell like you know the other guests very well almost immediately – quite something and have experienced nothing else like it.

Now…the price – one of our dilemmas was the cost and whether we could justify it. Having stayed there – I actually think it was a very good value. Expensive, but everything is included and if you did separately, not sure it would be that much less. You need to remember, everything is top notch and some of the activities provided are only available by the Lodge/Camp in the Park. For example, the hikes are all led by an expert guide/naturalist and they are the only ones that are allowed to lead hiking in the Park - the NPS doesn’t even conduct guided hikes…they are the only ones that have canoes available on Wonder Lake – what an experience! In addition, the food is 5 star and the guest speakers at night are very interesting.

Denali is beautiful and staying at either the Camp or Lodge will make your experience even that much more memorable.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about North Face Lodge

Address: Post Office Box 67, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Alaska > Denali National Park and Preserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 30 Specialty Lodging in Denali National Park and Preserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located near the end of the unpaved, mountainous 90-mile road into Denali National Park, North Face Lodge is one of only two in-park lodgings in view of Mt. McKinley. It specializes in learning adventures for active travelers, featuring naturalist-led hikes and field trips for visitors who wish to explore Denali in-depth. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
North Face Hotel Denali National Park And Preserve

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