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“Wonderful experience”

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Kantishna Roadhouse
Certificate of Excellence
annapolis, MD
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience”
Reviewed June 11, 2008

We just got back from a great trip to Alaska - one of the highlights was a three-night stay at Kantishna Roadhouse, 90 miles in from the entrance to Denali National Park. You can't drive in yourself - you have to take their bus from the entrance (6 hours, with multiple stops for wildlife viewing) or fly in via air taxi. They feature guided hikes, with three levels of difficulty (or you can design your own); there are also great presentations on dogsledding, Alaskan culture and history, wildlife and other topics. Cabins are rustic, but with indoor plumbing; food (meals are included in the price) are good but not fancy, with limited choices. The staff is wonderful, and the experience of being deep in the park should not be missed. I wish we had stayed longer.

  • Liked — the wonderful location and staff
  • Disliked — the cabins were adequate, but the heating system in ours needed work.
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank eastporter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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184 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
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English first
Tennessee
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 4, 2007

We stayed 4 nights at Kantishna Roadhouse. Quite an expensive place to stay but we figured it was once in a lifetime so why not??! Definitely our favorite place we stayed because we took time to relax and hang out as well as participate in the guided hikes and seminars. The ride to/from the Denali gate is fun but exhausting. We saw 3 moose, 2 grizzlies, caribou and sheep. Kantishna's service was great and we really liked the laid-back atmosphere. We liked the food & bar too. There were 2 couples in our group - we had cabins #1 (newer but right next to main entrance & heavier traffic) and #24 (behind the main lodge, older but had the basic amenities). This is not a 5-star chic hotel, definitely rustic but charming. The scenery and wildlife are worth the price and we saw Denali's peak! We spared ourselves the long bus ride back by chartering a plane which was incredible with Natl Geographic-like pics of Denali's peak.

  • Liked — hikes; scenery; food
  • Disliked — rooms - dark and sparse; mosquitoes!
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank greenjeans37
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Gatos, California
Level 4 Contributor
46 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed September 14, 2007

Denali is an amazing place, and the only way to truly experience it is by staying in one of the handful of properties located within the park. Otherwise you'll spend most of your time on busy ,crowded buses and miss most of what the park has to offer.

Kantisha is in a great location, about five hours into the park and very close to Wonder Lake. Many of the cabins are spread out along the river, which makes for a great atmosphere. The duplex cabins are simple, clean and comfortable... but definitely not modern. No compaints about the rooms though. The main lodge is a bit of a let down, as the gift shop takes up most the space. It also gets overrun with day trippers when the bus rolls in.

The guides are great, and conduct a few hikes and talks every day which were quite good. The dog sled demo was fun. Food is decent, but not much variety or choice. Service mediocre. Seems like they could have tried harder.

The bus ride in/out is long, and they make you leave at pretty inconvenient times which results in shortening the amount of time you get to spend at lodge. I'd suggest three nights, no more, no less. Make sure to sit on left side of bus on way in. Driver was terrific.

The $750/night price tag is pretty crazy, even considering it includes food, bus ride and activities. However, it is the only way to stay in the park without roughing it. I found it a bit insulting that for such a steep "all inclusive" price they still charge you for sodas and don't provide any snacks (and its not like you can go to the store down the street!).

Don't think I'd stay here again anytime soon, but glad we did it this time. It is all about location and access when it comes to Denali... and Kantishna certainly provides both.

  • Liked — location
  • Disliked — price/value
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Troy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed September 10, 2007

Before booking a lodge in the backcountry of Denali Park, we read as much as we would easily find about our options. We could not tell for sure - and are very glad we decided on the Roadhouse. Camp Denali and Northface have direct views of the mountain, but have longer minimum requirements. And we understand that Camp Denali does not even have private bathrooms. The Roadhouse does not have direct views - though the setting is quite lovely - but if the mountain is showing itself, why would you be sitting in your cabin?? Get out and walk to the views!! The Roadhouse has a nice setting, private baths in the rooms, decent food (not Great - but fine) activites if you want to join in - including hiking and fishing.

The only disappointment is the dessert chef's preoccupation with nuts!! The cookies for snacks on the bus ride in were all full of nuts - as was the first night's dessert. (But a good wait staff member found me an alternative - good service!!) After I explained my allergy to the hiking staff, they assured me that some of the cookies on the day hike would NOT have nuts. They lied!! All cookies = nuts. Too bad they did not work harder at knowing guests needs (and nuts are a pretty common allergy.)

  • Stayed August 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank member57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed July 8, 2007

Kantishna Roadhouse left a lot to be desired. The bus ride in and out were great, lots of wildife sightings, beautiful views, and the driver was great. And, the location, 90 miles into the park, was wonderful. Places to hike, some great views of The Mountain etc.

However, the housekeeping services were basically non-existant. And, the walls between the duplex cabins were paper thin. Food was Ok, and I will cut them a little slack, as I am sure it is hard to get fresh supplies into the area, but definetly nothing to write home about. The main lodge also had a "touristy" feel, with the main lobby being taken over by the gift shop, and the two tour buses which arrived daily for lunch.

If Kantishna Roadhouse was located anywhere else (other than 90 miles within one of the most beautiful places in the world), I don't believe the rating would be this high.

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank mcoxpharmd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed July 2, 2007

We just returned from 14 days in Alaska and one stop was the Kantishna Roadhouse. We took the train from Anchorage (which I highly recommend) and stayed one night at the Denali River Cabins (which I would not recommend) If you drive or take the train you need to find another place to stay outside the park before taking the bus in the morning. The Denali River Cabins are owned by the same company that owns The Kantishna. You would think that they would be on board with those travellers that are going on to their Kantishna property. They are NOT. We received very little or incorrect information about our departure the next day for the Roadhouse, and almost missed the bus. We ended up paying a driver $20.00 to race us over to the train station after we waited for 45 minutes for transportation from the DRC down to the train station. I would have stayed at the property next door, which I believe was called The McKinley Resort ( I could be wrong). Also, the restaurant at DRC was disgusting. The service was horrible and the men's bathroom was nasty. The Health Department would have closed them down if they had visited. The ride from the train depot out to the Roadhouse is VERY LONG!! 6 hours on a school bus. The nice part was their driver, Kirsty Knittle. She was awesome. Knew where to find all sorts of animals. The Kantishna itself was very nice, clean and the food was pretty good, aside from the lamb chops they served one evening, I just don't like lamb. The cabins were big and clean. The gold panning was a little disappointing because they bring in dirt from another location for you to pan. You're not allowed to pan in the river, The staff was very nice. The dogsled racing was a bit hoaky. I felt sorry for the dogs when I went down to visit them. I don't think they get out much more than the few minutes a day for the demonstration. If we were to do it again, I might look into the Denali Backcountry Lodge. The facilities aren't as nice but the location is better. Right on the river.I think they cater better to families. On a final note, we opted to fly out rather than take the bus again. Well worth the extra $780.00 for 4 of us. Our pilot, Connie was great and he did a fabulous job of buzzing Denali for us to get a real, close look. We were very lucky. The mountain was out it its full glory one of the days of our stay. Seeing it is life-changing!!

Stayed July 2007
Helpful?
6 Thank AnerCalifornia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Antonio, TX
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed September 19, 2006

This has got to be the best place to stay while at Denali National Park. It is rather pricy, but well worth the cost! Unlike most of the other lodging options, it is located deep inside Denali National Park, near Wonder Lake. This lodge was great! It was rustic, yet modern and sophisticated. The actual accommodations are in cabins that have two rooms per cabin. Each room is sizeable, has a private bath, and ours had two queen beds. The rooms were very clean and neat as well as comfortable. The curtains were heavy to block out the daylight that can make it hard to sleep at night in Alaska during the summer. The cabins are arrayed around the main lodge, which contains a lobby/gift shop area, two dining areas, a bar, and an upstairs library/meeting room. All meals are included while staying at the lodge and the food was outstanding with very nice (and even bordering on elegant) dining experience. There are plenty of tables, but it’s most interesting to sit at a table with some of the other guests and share your experiences! Over the two days we were there we got to meet and have conversations with many of the other guests (since the lodge is not that big). The adjacent full-service bar is a cozy and fun way to relax after being out all day.
There is no shortage of activities available here to fill your time (and there is no extra cost for any of them). Each day has a full schedule of activity options and there is an activities desk to sign up for some of them. Or if you prefer to go out on your own, they can recommend a variety of hiking options, depending on your skill level and what you want to see. In the morning, they have a choice of two guided hikes (one easy and one moderate). We chose to go mountain biking on our own to Wonder Lake, instead. They have a number of bikes and helmets available for guests to use. The ride out to the lake was mostly uphill and but that made the return trip easy. It only took about 2.5hrs including some hiking time near the lake and a stop for blueberry picking on Blueberry Hill. If your outdoor activity will run through lunch, they will prepare a sack lunch for you to take, if you request it the night before.
In the afternoon, there are many more activities: a demonstration of sled dog racing, gold panning in the adjacent, very pretty, creek (and we did find some small gold nuggets which they will laminate for free onto a card you can take home), and then an afternoon program of which there were two options – a trip to a nearby historical cabin or an indoor program in the meeting room. After dinner, there was also an evening program in the meeting room – while we were there it was given by a very interesting Athabascan chief from a village far north of the Arctic Circle who also played several fiddle tunes for us. If you just want to relax, there is also plenty of outside seating around the lodge. Also, the van at the roadhouse can take you back to near Wonder Lake if requested (but not all the way to the lake, due to park restrictions.) They will also do bus runs if Mt. McKinley is “out”.
One of the best parts of staying at the Kantishna Roadhouse is the bus ride to it. (You can also choose to go in or out by plane). The park service offers bus tours of the park also, but its a very long day if you go as far as Wonder Lake. Since the ride out to the Roadhouse is one way, the bus can stop often (especially on the way out) for wildlife watching, scenery viewing, or photography. Also our bus was not very crowded and there was plenty of room to move around and look out the other side windows unlike the packed-full park busses we passed. They also provide juice and cookies during the ride. Our bus driver was Kirsty from New Zealand who has been driving the bus in the park for many years, was very knowledgeable and seemed as excited to see things as we were, even though she drives this long route almost every day. Incredibly, she keeps up a running monologue most of the way through the 6-hour trip to the Roadhouse and is full of interesting information. She made what could have been a long, rough ride seem to go by too quickly. Also, she is somehow able to spot wildlife at long distances while driving around hairpin curves with steep dropoffs! She spotted most of the wildlife we saw on the bus ride. We were also told that she is the only bus driver who will back up if something interesting is spotted! She is also a great photographer and has a number of shots available for sale at the Roadhouse. On the ride into the park, it was mostly clear for the first half and we saw many caribou (one ran across the road right in front of us), Dall sheep (one ran down a hillside to near the bus) as well as a fox and beaver. Unfortunately it rained rather heavily during the latter half of the ride. On the way out, it was pretty clear in the morning and we saw two grizzly’s, moose, more sheep and caribou, and rarest of all, a wolf which ran right in front of the bus and then walked down the road in front of us for about 5 minutes!
Other than camping, the Kantishna Roadhouse and two other lodges in the Kantishna area are pretty much the only way to stay inside the Park. We stayed at the Roadhouse for two nights (the minimum since you come in the afternoon, have all the next day, and then leave very early on the last day). However, I would recommend three nights as we wished we could have stayed longer. Of the other lodging options, the North Face Lodge only offers a 5 night stay, and then there is the Denali Backcountry Lodge. We had a hard time deciding between them and the Kantishna Roadhouse as they seemed very similar. However, with the Denali Backcountry Lodge, the “safari” trip only offers a one night stay in the lodge (it goes out in the morning and back in the evening the following day.) We spoke with people who were guests at the Denali Backcountry Lodge at the same time we were at the Kantishna Roadhouse and they said that it was nice, but had fewer activities and the food was not as good.
If you can swing the cost, the Kantishna Roadhouse seems to be the ultimate lodging choice while at Denali. Good accommodations, excellent food, lots of activities, awesome location, and best of all the bus ride in and out make for an incredible visit to this National Park.

  • Liked — Location, complete service, bus ride to lodge.
  • Disliked — We had to leave.
  • Tips/Secrets — Stay at least three nights!
  • Stayed August 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
18 Thank TXJoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kantishna Roadhouse

Property: Kantishna Roadhouse
Address: 1 Doyon Pl # 300, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99701-2941
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Alaska > Denali National Park and Preserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 26 Specialty Lodging in Denali National Park and Preserve
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Kantishna Roadhouse 2.5*
Number of rooms: 32
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kantishna Roadhouse is a backcountry lodge resort in the heart of Denali National Park. Comfortable well-appointed cabin lodging, all-inclusive experience. Enjoy abundant activities including daily guided hikes, gold panning with expert guides, free mountain bike rental/usage, and fly-fishing for Arctic Grayling in Moose Creek. For those that choose to stay in camp for the day, our comfortable natural history library, cozy lobby, or outdoor screened-in porch -- offer pleasant alternatives. This is a true Alaskan adventure in one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. The transportation to and from the resort is half the fun. Our red and white bus, marked "Kantishna Roadhouse," gives you the opportunity to see abundant wildlife in its natural setting, including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, dall sheep, among other critters. Kantishna Roadhouse is the only resort in the backcountry with a bar/saloon. Sip wine on the banks of the Moose River while you take in a beautiful sunset by the fire. Enjoy activities and relaxation. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kantishna Roadhouse Hotel Denali National Park And Preserve

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