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“Great place for kids and adults alike!”
Review of Camp Denali

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Camp Denali
Certificate of Excellence
Louisville, Kentucky
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Great place for kids and adults alike!”
Reviewed August 14, 2008

Camp Denali was such a great experience- I don't know where to start!
I was traveling alone with my 11 year old son. It was a heck of a trip to get there- that's for sure. A seven hour train ride to Denali from Anchorage and then another 7 hour bus ride into the park. But it was worth it.
Camp Denali is expensive- but it's also the only place to really experience this incredible piece of Alaska. The cabins are rustic- but in a nice way. There is no electricity or running water. But they make it really easy because there is running water just outside the door and there are propane lights and a wood stove for heat.
You use your own outhouse for the bathroom- or there are nice bathrooms located up the hill a bit in the shower house. The outhouse is not bad- it's really dug deep and doesn't smell much.
We were fortunate to see Mt. McKinley on our first night and to say the view from the cabins is spectacular would be a huge understatement. We stayed up until 1 in the morning just because we couldn't take our eyes off of it . And it's a good thing we did- because it disappeared behind clouds and we never saw it again.
It was quite cold for summer during out stay- upper 40's to low 50s and really rainy. There were a few times I felt the cabin was chilly- to say the least. But when I got the stove going for a while- it warmed up and the lights made it warm, too. And I loved the rustic feel that the lack of electricity gave us- we thought it was so cozy.
The beds are incredible. I mean- I don't think I've ever slept that well! My little trick was to set up the fire in the stove before bed and then jump out and light it super fast in the morning and jump back under the covers until it warmed up.
I read a review that expressed concern over their treatment of children. That seems really odd to me- there about 15 children of all ages in the group and they were all treated really well. Of course, they were all really well behaved- but I never heard a harsh word from the staff. In fact, there was one group that had an infant with them and the staff went out of the way to put that whole family together on it's own hike so that the baby and Mom could go along.
My son and I skipped the guided hike the first day and canoed on Wonder Lake. This involved walking a few miles with paddles and life vests. They offered us rides from the lodge- located about a mile down the hill- but we didn't take them up on it- preferring to walk. It was fabulous. Despite the rain and the cold- we bundled up and really enjoyed ourselves out in the canoe.
The second day we hiked with a guide. They offer three levels of hikes ranging from easy, to moderate, to strenuous. The guides are great - especially Ann- she is awesome and so nice to the kids.
We had a blast the whole time and did NOT want to leave. It's a great experience I would definitely recommend for anyone. Just make sure to bring some warm clothes, hiking boots, and rain gear!

  • Liked — location, views of Mt. McKinley
  • Disliked — the bus trip to get there
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
6 Thank Elizabeth1187
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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180 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (65)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
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English first
Bayonne, NJ
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2008

If you want to be surrounded by nature, taught about Denali national park (and all of its wildlife and flora) by the most amazing naturalist staff (Fiona and Esther rule!), be fed gourmet cuisine, and have the best view of Mt. McKinley humanly possible, go to Camp Denali.

It takes a looong time to get to Camp Denali (especially from Anchorage -- I would probably start from Fairbanks the next time I visit -- which hopefully will happen soon!). Get ready for the 7 hour bus ride into the park, from the entrance. However, the long trip is well worth it (with respect to the bus ride itself, the knowledgable bus drivers make stops along the way, and when you are seeing wolves and bears next to you, the time flies!).

The staff LOVE what they do, and it shows. Camp Denali has the best staff possible; unmatched by any hotel or resort I have ever visited.

All of the prior 5* reviews capture the vibe of Denali (and each review provides helpful advice on preparing for and packing for the trip). As long as you can handle the outhouse and a walk to the showers, you'll be OK. It is well worth it.

On a final note, I would like to address the one negative review about the mother who brought her young boys. We were a couple travelling with no children, but there were a number of families there with younger children. They were each treated with a LOT of respect by the staff (the children were all very inquisitive, mature, and well-behaved, and returned that respect). Camp Denali is obviously not the right place for children used to watching television 24-7 (there is no TV at Camp Denali). However, mature children who love nature and learning would, in my estimation, have a phenomenal time at Camp Denali.

Camp Denali has a great history (which you will learn about while there!), and is committed to treating its guests with a one-of-a kind experience. In my opinion, there is no better way to see Denali National Park (or Alaska for that matter).

  • Liked — Clean, private cabins
  • Disliked — Travel time to camp (but still worth it)
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank Hoya_Lawya_NJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winona, MN, USA
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2008

Stayed in the "Hawks Nest" which is homestead cabin run by Camp Denali but is separate from their main complex.

The cabin doesn't have electricity or running water, but is delightful step above sleeping in a tent at the Wonder Lake campground. It is nicely appointed with beds, a propane stove, fridge and lights, and heat from a small wood stove.

It is exactly 1 mile west of the north end of Wonder Lake which made it possible to catch sunrise and sunset on the Alaska range which you can not experience taking the tour buses into Denali's backcountry -- and is not as far back in the Kantishna valley as the other lodges in this area of the park. You can see the top half of Mt McKinley from the cabins porch and watch it glow for hours during the gradual Alaskan sunset.

Use the cabin qualifies you for a permit which allows you to drive your own vehicle on the park road on the trips in and out, but during your stay you are limited in getting around on your feet.

Our stay was the highlight of our trip to Denali and Alaska!

  • Stayed August 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank capt_k_mn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pennsylvania
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 15, 2008

If you're looking for a chance to spend some quality time in Denali National Park, I'd highly recommend Camp Denali. The cabins are rustic only in the sense that they don't have running water. The food was very good & the folks working there were helpful, knowledgable and fun. There was a young child (age 7) there with his parents & I thought the staff treated him very well. The naturalists were informative and really helped to make this a fantasic experience.

  • Liked — Friendliness
  • Disliked — outhouse
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank TLL2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus OH
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
Reviewed June 23, 2008

dTester covers the Camp well. Let me add my 2 cents about Camp Denali. I think it is difficult to find many places in the U.S. that offer this kind of experience. Many of our nat'l parks are awesome but can be tougher to enjoy because of crowds or access. Camp Denali gives you, without question, the best interior access you can find in Denali NP and with a small group of passionate hiking enthusiasts and naturalists, both the staff and "campers" alike. Each day is a new adventure and we were able to hike, bike, fish, canoe, sightsee, watch wildlife and view Mt. McKinley, all from the best vantage point. Also, I did not go to Alaska or Denali for the food but was extremely impressed and surprised by the excellent meals we enjoyed prepared by dedicated chefs (i.e. not just cooks). They are not shoveling camp slop here. This place is far, far more than just "camping with a shower".

  • Liked — The 50 year old cabin with wood stove provided the perfect setting for the park
  • Disliked — Walking the hill up to the main camp area, but not really a big deal and would take the same cabin again.
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank Plan4it
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, TX
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed June 17, 2008

Booked this for his birthday because I knew he would like it, and not only was it just what he was looking for, we both were really awed. The setting of Camp Denali, is so beautiful, and our stay was really fun, and certainly worth every dollar. We were fed three meals a day, and not only was dinner most excellent all days, but the breakfast souffle one morning, served with fruit hash, was exquisitely delicious. To say the evening programs, that week presented by birder Scott Weidensaul, were inspirational doesn't adequately convey the passion and the depth of knowledge Scott brought to the camp experience. (& The sharp eyes of Scott's wife Amy spotted some of the interesting wildlife we saw on the bus ride into the park.)

There were hikes of varying difficulty level offered each day with a cadre of guides for each small group. I now know what it's like to hike across spongy tundra, and Alaskan taiga. Another day we chose to go off by ourselves to canoe Wonder Lake. They provided all the gear, including fishing tackle and a lift to the canoe dock. He happily caught several Wonder Lake trout. (Not the only fish caught, a young guy staying at the camp hooked Dolly Varden in a nearby creek the same day.) ,

There are some caveats that should be mentioned to those considering this venue. Camp Denali is, as its name states, a camp, rather than a hotel. Guests are asked to make some accommodation for the prerogative of staying here. This is likely not a good choice if you are mobility impaired, if you disdain hiking boots, can't live without your iPhone, or feel separation anxiety over indoor plumbing (there are facilities near the cabin.) Yes, there were one or two minor annoyances, if you are rather finicky, like me, but all in all this place is fabulous.

On a final note, I'd say that like many summer camps, the best part of the of the stay was the genuine camaraderie, propagated by the staff.

  • Liked — Everything.
  • Disliked — The weather could have been clear.
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank dTester
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milton, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed July 22, 2007

I can't say enough about our 4 night stay at Camp Denali. When first hearing of the cost, I thought my friend was nuts but in hindsight, it was some of the best money I've spent on a vacation. I came to realize that staying at Camp Denali is more than just seeing Mt. McKinley (which we did all 4 days!), but more the "experience "of being in Denali National Park. With knowledgeable and friendly staff, naturalists and guest speakers to explain all and answer ANY questions we had, we learned so much more than we could have on a one day tour into the park. Walking on tundra, eating wild berries, hiking up mountainsides and seeing beautiful vistas for miles and miles, has left a very memorable, almost spiritual impression on me. The community style dining also added to our enjoyment as every meal we got to meet other people also staying at Camp Denali as the staff rotated where everyone sat (you always got to sit with your travel companions of course!) We also had a guest speaker for each evening where we learned even more about our environment in the Denali area. So yes the cost may seem high, but the experience is priceless!

  • Liked — Luxury Camping in a pristine setting!
  • Disliked — Nothing!
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank trudzie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Camp Denali

Property: Camp Denali
Address: Mile 89 Denali Park Road, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Alaska > Denali National Park and Preserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 26 Specialty Lodging in Denali National Park and Preserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Camp Denali, with sweeping views of Mt. McKinley, is located deep inside Denali National Park. Offering active learning vacations since 1952. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Camp Denali Hotel Denali National Park And Preserve

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