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“Best Part of Our Alaska Trip!”

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Alaska Homestead Lodge
Indianapolis
Level Contributor
23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Best Part of Our Alaska Trip!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 15, 2012

My wife and I visited the Homestead Lodge in early July, and it was simply the best part of the 11 day vacation we took in Alaska. We visited four different national parks, and stayed in lodges at each, but our experience at the Homestead was the most intimate and special.

James and Sheila welcome you into their home as if you were family, and the young staff members were over the top in their efforts to make your experience "one of a kind".

Scott and Sage took us out bear watching, and while we saw many more bears at the Brooks River a week later, viewing them here was much more personal. We were usually the only people within miles as we watched grizzlies of all ages doing their thing without the hassle of crowded viewing platforms and dozens of pushy people trying to get a shot of a bear catching a salmon in its mouth. Scott has been at the lodge for five years and has a tremendous knowledge of the bears and their habits. He and Sage drove us around in a small trailer pulled behind an ATV, and we were able to cover miles and miles of the beautiful coastal meadow.

The second day we were at the Homestead we did some net fishing and caught some Sockeye salmon that we helped gather from the nets. Scott filleted them and Tommy cooked them for dinner that night....superb!

While we were having dinner, a grizzly walked into the backyard and trotted through Sheila's vegetable garden!

We flew from Soldotna via Natron Air, and Tim gave us a smooth ride and landed on the beautiful black sand beach about a half mile from the lodge. There were two grizzlies digging for clams on the beach as we unloaded our gear.

Some travelers choose to fly over to Lake Clark for the day and hire the staff at the Homestead to take them bear viewing. I think those people are missing a large part of the experience, and I encourage you to consider staying at least one night at the Homestead.

Room Tip: We had a nice room with a balcony facing the lake
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Mike G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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55 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
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English first
Anchorage, AK
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 2, 2012

As fiscally conservative, hard-working, middle-class Americans, you can bet your bottom dollar that we debated a long time about splurging on an overnight trip to Lake Clark National Park. For us, the balance tipped in favor of bear viewing with Homestead Lodge after reading travel excerpts on the incredible adventures of watching brown bears in their natural environment and the rare opportunity to visit a remote, wilderness area of Alaska.

The journey began with a scenic flight by small plane over Cook Inlet. (Don’t let small planes deter you. Bush pilots are skilled and experienced. If necessary, try a technique of a fellow passenger: gulp a Tylenol PM and enjoy a short, refreshing nap.) The plane landed on the beach where we were immediately greeted by two young brown bears. Though a natural inclination might be to surmise the bears are sizing you up for a snack or lunch, one soon discovers that the bears are mainly focused on their own concerns and not overly affected by their two-legged admirers. Our guide appeared shortly thereafter driving an affectionately termed, “wilderness limousine,” an ATV pulling a cart with benches.

Within minutes of our arrival at the lodge, our hosts and various other staff members warmly welcomed us. Their cordiality made us feel immediately at home. A pleasant sense of teamwork and cooperation existed among the hosts and staff that added to the familial atmosphere. The physical characteristics of the lodge itself uniquely mixed modern, traditional, and “Alaskan” décor. Wood plank flooring, antiques, animal furs and mounts, home-made quilts, and scattered bouquets of fresh field and garden flowers provided ambiance and appeal. Beautiful picture frame windows offered incredible views of the inlet. The rooms are small, clean, and tastefully decorated. We were pleasantly surprised, expecting more primitive accommodations given a location where goods must be shipped either by boat or plane. The hosts also offered a lovely array of dishes at mealtimes served in a family-style setting and highlighted by a traditional dinner blessing. “Homemade” and “garden fresh” describe the lodge's special cuisine.

Soon after settling in the lodge, our guide loaded us back on the “wilderness limo” and we were off to see the bears. An exciting aspect of bear viewing centers on the fact that one never knows when or where a bear might pop up or what a bear might do. We observed several bears basking themselves in the slough waters, courting, grazing, and even rolling around on the ground. The guides really try to cater to your preferences. The only time our guide said, “Sorry, no way!” was when we jokingly asked to pet a bear. Though we live in Alaska, watching brown bears in their natural setting within such close proximity was truly remarkable and one we would definitely not wish to repeat in other settings.

A few recommendations for this trip include “walking” instead of riding the ATV to view bears. The guides can take you across meadows, back to hidden lakes, and along the beach without the noise and limitations of ATV trails. Bring your rubber boots versus hiking boots if you plan to forge into the marshes and sloughs. Don’t forget cash for gratuities. I confess our naïvete in tipping practices and never thought to bring along extra funds for that purpose. Finally, bring a water bottle to take with you when you are out bear viewing.

We are thankful for such an unique Alaskan experience and highly recommend the Homestead Lodge for their clean, cozy accommodations and kind attention.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Mybuddyelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grand Rapids, MI
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 21, 2012

The Alaska Homestead Lodge was a true gem. James, Sheila and the team do an impeccable job as hosts and truly make you feel at home in there beautiful lodge. My wife and I spent 3 nights at the lodge and spent our days enjoying the wildlife, nature and spending time with the hosts and guides. They truly treated you just like you were a part of their own family. My wife and I rarely travel to the same place twice because there is so much of the world to see, but James and Sheila have a special place in our hearts and we will be back to see them again. The bear viewing was fantastic, the guides are very knowledgable, follow the lodges high standard of ethics in regards to bear viewing and make you feel completely safe. I would highly recommend this location to anyone wanting to get off the mainstream tourist trail and enjoy the real Alaska.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Jon N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Friday Harbor, Washington, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 21, 2012

My parents and I visited the Alaska Homestead Lodge in September of last year. This experience had to be one of the most incredible and memorable of my life. I have always wanted to see a wild brown/grizzly bear up close and personal and on their terms. Wow, this trip did not disappoint. We spent three days at the lodge and had amazing encounters every day. I also very much appreciated how respectful Sheila, James, and Johnny were to the animals. While it is incredible to see them, it is very important that the bears have their space to feed, rest, travel, and do what they need to do (we are visitors in THEIR home, after all). I felt that we had amazing viewing opportunities without impacting the bears.
The lodge itself is extremely comfortable especially considering where it is located. The wilderness is literally in the backyard and I think that is one of the things that makes this place so charming. Sheila and James (the owners) were lovely and made us feel so at home. We felt like we were part of the family. Johnny, our guide, was very professional and his wife was such a sweetheart and an amazing cook. Be prepared for some fabulous home-cooked meals when you visit. Sheila and Debbie rock the kitchen! :)
Here is a blog post I wrote about our adventure and it includes photos:
http://spyhoppertravels.blogspot.com/2011/09/bear-watching-in-lake-clark-national.html
Thank you so much James, Sheila, Johnny, and Debbie for a wonderful adventure. We hope to visit again soon!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Katie J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
45 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 2, 2012

Where else could you see grizzlies in their natural habitat accompanied by outstanding professional guides, have comfortable accommodations, and excellent fresh caught salmon? We stayed five nights in early August, and had the experience of a lifetime. James and Sheila are wonderful hosts at their cozy well-built lodge. Three of us, including my 82 year old mom thoroughly enjoyed everything about our stay. It was a good choice for those of us who were more active and for my mom who was less mobile. Either Scott or Sage took my husband and me out to see bears, hike, and otherwise enjoy the area around Silver Salmon Creek. Scott is an amazing bear observer and guide. Sage knows her cameras and had great suggestions on how to get great shots. One evening we had a great experience setting a net along the shore to catch some salmon. Heidi took care of us at the lodge. James grills the best salmon you've ever eaten. Sheila keeps everything running. It is fascinating to talk to James and Sheila about their winter experiences.
It is very important to go with really good rain gear and to be prepared for bad weather. We spent entire days in drizzle, but because we were adequately equipped it wasn't a problem.we also had days of nice sun, but it was still cool. Go to REI in Anchorage and buy good warm clothing if you don't already have it.

Rooms are nice. Ours had an attached private bath. Others had a bath separate from the room, but still convenient to it. the entire lodge is comfortable, spotlessly clean and has great views. mom took some great bear photos as the grizzlies ambled by!
We'd go back In a flash - and probably will one of these days.

  • Stayed August 2011
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Helpful?
2 Thank Sailthtbay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newport Beach, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 12, 2011

Travelers to Alaska can't help being wowed by its majestic, vast landscapes and uncharacteristic culture. Yet sometimes first-time travelers (or multi-year travelers for that matter) feel like something was missing from their trips. Yes, you may take a glacier cruise, or go sightseeing on a plane/train excursion, but the limits for experiencing the Alaska shown in the brochures will feel out of reach when traveling this way. As someone who has traveled to Alaska 29 straight years, I too always stayed on the main road system, went on the same group tours for the first 21 years, but eventually came to want a more memorable, up-close Alaska experience.
I happened upon Alaska Homestead Lodge nine years ago by accident when a pilot who had flown me out on many day fishing trips over past years asked me “why do you travel all this way each year and not ever see the real Alaska?”. I didn’t have a good answer for him. I took the website info for Homestead Lodge and that began the first of many truly unforgettable lifetime experiences.
Homestead Lodge is at a very special place called Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark National Park. How special? First, it is one of the few places in Alaska where you can safely see bears in their natural habitat with an experienced guide that is far more knowledgeable then what you would find on a typical tour. Bears fishing in the creek, feeding in the meadows, nursing, sleeping and frolicking in the surf and tides, literally walking nearby you and your small guided group. If you are like most everyone who visits Alaska and wants to see and experience bears in a controlled environment, Homestead Lodge will not disappoint. It is downright astounding and spectacular as an outdoor experience!
Secondly, the folks that run Homestead Lodge, James and Shelia Isaack have built the most comfortable and hospitable lodge anywhere in Alaska. From the incredible home cooked meals (don’t forget to partake in the scrumptious homemade bread each day), to the cleanliness, to the décor, to the service of the staff, you would have to be Ebenezer Scrooge not to have a fabulous time.
Thirdly, Homestead Lodge is located next to a world-class fishing stream! Fly-fishing is my passion and in all of the rivers, streams, creeks I have fished on my trips to Alaska, none has come close to Silver Salmon Creek. This clear-water, tidal influenced fishery has a natural run of silver salmon (also known as Coho salmon-the best of table fare) where literally dozens and dozens of silvers can been seen within 20 feet from you. Because the creek has an average depth of only of five to six feet, any guest has as good a chance to catch a salmon as an experienced fisherperson. That includes those not fly-fishing, but using lodge supplied spinning rods.
Lastly, a stay at Homestead Lodge offers something you, your family, children and friends aren’t likely to get on the rest of your Alaska trip. A peaceful, serene and holistic place that truly feeds the soul and mind.
If you are taking only one trip to Alaska and have your heart set on that including a unique, unforgettable experience, my advice is to include Homestead Lodge on your itinerary. Regardless if you take a day trip or wisely decide to stay a few nights, this trip will be looked back as an investment in your memories. I and the 15 people who have traveled with me in 10 different trips to this very special place, assure you it was the best investment we have ever made in our travels. In sum, the best value for the experience in Alaska!

David Goad
Newport Beach, CA

Room Tip: There are a number of different rooms to accommodate individuals, couples, or families.
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank David G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 23, 2011

Staying at the Alaska Homestead Lodge was like finding a 4 leaf clover when you are not looking for it. My wife and I set out to spend a week in some place cool and quiet where we could relax, enjoy nature, and take a few wonderful pictures of bears. Really did not know much about the lodge except from these reviews and their website.

Well, let me tell you- we were blown away! And since my wife and I travel a good deal and have stayed in many world class venues along the way, we are not easily impressed.The whole experience exceeded our expectations!

Where do we start. The lodge itself is extremely comfortable and beautifully decorated in a manner quite fit for an outdoor lodge. Everything you would hope for in a lodge.

Food- simply outstanding (and healthy). Every meal was a treat and usually had produce grown in their garden and by our request, fresh salmon and Halibut caught that day. Things like homemade breads, pies, salad dressings and more just made you feel so comfortable and at home. and the meals served family style were a time of story telling and a thousand laughs as if you had known these folks for years.

That brings us to the people. James and Sheila are fantastic folks that work very effectively to insure you have a memorable time. Their ability to anticipate our every hope and want was almost "spooky" it was so good. How did they know our favorites all the time?

Our guide Scott is off the charts good. Knows his stuff and puts you on wildlife. We got so many great shots. Not only is he a pro, but a wonderful individual. And he makes sure that both you and the bears are always comfortable and safe.

Heidi who is sort of a jack of all trades was always smiling and doing special things to make our trip most enjoyable. And such a sweetheart. We had never eaten a rhubarb pie and the next thing I know she has made one from their garden.

All in all, the entire group of folks work so hard and are so sincere that they want to insure you leave with the fondest of memories

And then that brings us to the bears. Well they were amazing. We have photos of them clamming, fishing, playing, swimming, climbing trees, nursing, sleeping,wrestling and much more. ( and even a few times getting into a little mischief.) Not only are they all magnificent but the two year old cubs and the spring cub were so cute and entertaining. If you want bears, i cannot imagine anywhere where you would see them so up close and entertaining. And with the mountains, the lake, the meadows, and the streams, it is simply a wondrous place .

Also, I am an avid fisherman so lets just say the afternoon I committed to go, we caught our limit of beautiful silver salmon very quickly-which they graciously grilled for us with one of their special recipes that evening.

Anyway, we leave Alaska Homestead feeling very, very lucky and thankful for our good fortune to find this jewel. We heartily recommend to all we see with 5 stars, two thumbs up or whatever rating represents their excellence.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
1 Thank biganniversary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Alaska Homestead Lodge

Property: Alaska Homestead Lodge
Address: Soldotna, Alaska 99669, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, AK
Location: United States > Alaska > Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Number of rooms: 18
Also Known As:
Alaska Homestead Lodge Lake Clark National Park And Preserve

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