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Kantishna Roadhouse
Certificate of Excellence
California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“pretty good”
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.
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English first
San Antonio, TX
Level 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.
nowhere
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed September 11, 2006

We had a great experience at the Roadhouse in early August. The accomodations are not luxurious, but they are very comfortable and, considering the location 100 miles inside Denali, everything we had hoped for. The food, while certainly not up to gourmet standards, was fresh and well prepared. The staff is first rate, very accomodating and very helpful. While it is quite expensive to stay inside the park, we feel like we got our money's worth at this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We highly recommend it.

  • Stayed August 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank Radio63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
frbill92@hotmail.com
Level Contributor
227 reviews
93 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 351 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2006

I stayed at Kantishna Roadhouse for three nights in mid-July. The most impressive part of my stay, apart from the fabulous scenery, were the meals. I would have never thought I would find such delicious, quality meals in a backcountry lodge. The variety--especially at the evening meal--was unbelievable. Everyone I spoke to raved about the delicious choices from beef and fish to vegetarian delights. It was worth staying there for that service. The lodge is within walking or biking distance from Wonder Lake and some of the most magnificent scenery in Denali Park. On my second full-day at the Lodge, Denali was in full view and without a cloud. It was a sight I will always remember and cherish. The mosquitoes were not as bad as I expected (as long as you kept moving) but they were bothersome if you sat on the porch. The biggest disappointments were the activities and presentations. They did leave much to be desired--from the dog sledding demonstrations and gold panning demonstrations to the guided hikes and cultural presentations. It was very expensive, but the accomodations were nice and comfortable. The cabins, however, are not sound proof, and I could hear the conversations and even the snoring in the adjoining cabin. The bus ride out and back was a treat and we saw many animals including wolves and many Brown Bear. I'm not sure I would stay here again--I might try another location in the Kantishna Area the next time. But in general it was a very nice experience.

  • Liked — The Meal Service
  • Disliked — The cabins were noisy
  • Stayed July 2006, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Frbill92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
26 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 174 helpful votes
Reviewed July 20, 2006

After seeing how touristy the entrance to Denali was, I'm so glad we stayed INSIDE the park. Our family (mom, dad, & 2 teen kids) stayed here 2 nights in late June 2006. We had a wonderful time. The grounds were beautiful. I loved the hanging flower baskets at the entrance, and the river running alongside the cabins. The rooms were clean and well stocked. Plenty of blankets for chilly nights. We wished they had black-out curtains though, since the nights are so bright. Food was always fresh and tasty. And, they accomodated my picky daughter by cooking a grilled cheese sandwich when she wouldn't eat the standard meal. We enjoyed the gold panning more than we expected and liked the guided hike that we took. Beware though, the mosquitos are THICK! Especially on the trails. On the bus ride in, it was cloudy and drizzling which was great for animal watching. Another thing to point out about the bus was that there are a LOT less people on the overnight buses than on the day buses. So, when you stop to see an animal, everyone can have a good view. Those day buses looked SO crowded - I don't know how they got any good photos. On our last evening, after dinner, the sun finally broke through the clouds and Mt. McKinley finally came out to show herself. So at 9:30PM, the Roadhouse staff loaded up 2 vans and drove us out to Wonder Lake for photos of the mountain. Wow! We also got great views on the drive out the next morning but less animals since it was hot with the sun out. By afternoon, the mountain was all covered by clouds again. And to think that we would have missed that fabulous view if we'd've stayed at the entrance. Bugs aside, of our 17 days in Alaska the 2 in Kantishna were among our favorites!

  • Liked — Location - relaxed atmosphere
  • Disliked — Mosquitos
  • Tips/Secrets — This is the only property Inside Denali park that has a Bar.
  • Stayed June 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Traveling Trish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed July 3, 2006

Recently returned from two nights at the Kantishna Roadhouse. While the cabins were acceptable, the food ranged from average to fabulous, and the staff were lovely, no one warned us about the mosquitoes. One of our guides said that the mosquitoes "weren't bad" that week, since there had still been over-night freezes the week before. If what we experienced wasn't bad, I can't even imagine being there later in the summer. While the basket of mosquito-net hats and the cans of insect repellent (availble for purchase in the lobby) were dead give-aways of on-going issues, no one had said anything about a potential bug problem while we were making our reservations for this trip. One member of our party suffers severe reactions to insect bites, and when we arrived at the Roadhouse and saw the swarms of mosquitoes that were everywhere, she was ready to turn around and leave. For the next two days we went nowhere unless we were wearing long sleeves and pants or were covered with Deep Woods Off.

Obviously, when you're out in nature you have to expect to find insects, and Kantishna is about as far into the Park as you can go. Still, there's a difference between mosquitoes and MOSQUITOES, and had we known what to expect we might have chosen to stay closer to the entrance to the Park and taken a day-trip out to Kantishna, since the drives out and back on the Denali Road are not to be missed. Between the unbelievable scenery and Gary's uncanny ability to find animals (not to mention his talent as a raconteur), the drives almost made up for two days of mosquito-swatting and dodging. If you're the kind of person who either isn't bothered by mosquitoes or doesn't mind being bitten, the Roadhouse is a true Denali experience. However, if you tend to be squeamish or have allergy issues, stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed June 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank Wheaten3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
High Point, NC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed August 17, 2005

We loved the Kantishna RoadHouse. The accoommodations were wonderful, the food was great, the staff was tops. Molissa, Emmitt, Ann, Marie, Gary, David, Krispin, Louis were just fantastic. They were never too busy to stop and talk or answer any questions we had. We really enjoyed talking to all the staff. Gary was fantastic. He is soooo enthusiastic about the wildlife and keeping the park as it is. We were very fortunate to have him on our trip to Kantishna. David was great to. We saw lots of wildllife and the views of Mt. McKinley were beyond our expectations. We only stayed 2 night, we wished we could have stayed longer! Because of our experience at Kantishna we had as near a perfect vacation as you can possibly get.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Newmoon
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 #7 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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