Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

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nirvines88
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Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by nirvines88 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:37 pm

So my friends and I were thinking about planning a summer trip to the Denali at the last minute. We were thinking of going from approximately July 14-20, but are having problems finding a cabin/hotel/any form of lodging. Anyone know of a comprehensive listing source for all Denali-related lodging? I have gone through some options one by one, but some of the availability calendars on these hotel website are primitive at best!
"Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship" - Poor Richard

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Nestegg_User
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by Nestegg_User » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:33 pm

Alaska... and especially Denali or the Kenai... is NOT LIKE the LOWER 48!! You don't just hop on a plane and expect cars and lodging to be available.

Years ago, I booked Eleven Months in advance. You are effectively trying to get something that is already booked solid... the cruise lines usually book everything available during that timeframe near Denali.
There used to be a couple of small motels in Healy, north of the park a number of miles up, that the railroad workers stayed at. One of the has the office in an old railroad car just west off the highway. [There really isn't anything closer south of the park, and it was expensive, by comparison...they know everthing else is booked and it is the only thing that side going to Anchorage. Forget about subletting, as well, every knook and cranny usually occupied by the visiting foreign students working at the park.]

I would normally have said get a copy of "Milepost", which has all the lodging, events, etc.... but at this point,everything might already be booked. OH, and I did say everything isn't like the lower 48... MAKE SURE IF YOU GO YOU HAVE GUARANTEED CAR RESERVATION (when I was there some people were stopping into car rentals asking and the clerks looked at them dumbfounded since there are only so many cars up there in the first place.) At that time, you might not find vehicles available either.
Last edited by Nestegg_User on Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

chaz
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by chaz » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:50 pm

Get Denali with a Princess cruise.
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WallyBird
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by WallyBird » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:23 pm

nirvines88 wrote:So my friends and I were thinking about planning a summer trip to the Denali at the last minute. We were thinking of going from approximately July 14-20, but are having problems finding a cabin/hotel/any form of lodging. Anyone know of a comprehensive listing source for all Denali-related lodging? I have gone through some options one by one, but some of the availability calendars on these hotel website are primitive at best!
Email and wait, or pick up the phone. Keep the time differences in mind.

In any case, 6 days is a quick trip to Alaska. Not so quick that you shouldn't bother, but even if you can't get Denali lodgings that suit you, there's plenty of Alaska that you can see in that time to make a trip worthwhile. Denali is a very popular corner of the state, and the industrial tourism companies send huge numbers of people there. I'd love to see the park someday, but it would take some planning, and I certainly wouldn't aim to hit it at the peak of the short season.

That said, July is a fine time to visit most parts of southcentral and interior Alaska. Plenty to see, long nights, gorgeous scenery.
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Nestegg_User
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by Nestegg_User » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:59 am

Wally,
That's why we had to book so early... that and I used Delta frequent flier miles to get there :sharebeer from CVG (where the OP is posting from...BTW, it used to go CVG to Salt Lake to Anchorage)
Agree that there is lots of places to go... we went all over the place, staying in small (6 - 8 person) B&B's, even staying at the old BOQ in Wittier (one of only two places to stay there... book ahead) to get to the small excursions on the Sound. Lots of different opportunities up there... and there's scenery going to the "sities" (like Denali) ... have some great shots of the fireweed in fields in areas between Soldotna and Homer, not to mention shots of the places in Homer and across the Bay (youcan book a number of pilots in advance, then hope the weather is clear enough for your excursion).

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climber2020
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by climber2020 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:37 am

When my buddy and I went to Alaska, we stayed in hostels the whole time. Near Denali, the one we used was Denali Mountain Morning Hostel. Looks like they have several cabins available during your travel dates.

We spent one night camping in Denali National Park. You have to get a backcountry pass from the visitors center, take a short bear safety course, and a bus takes you 3 hours into the park and drops you off. It was a memorable experience. If you decide to camp in the park, take the strongest bug spray you can find.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:37 am

We rented a VRBO near Nenana Canyon. I do not see it listed on the site any more:
http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/alaska/denali
http://blog.alaskatravel.com/deciding-w ... nali-park/

Your desired activities may inform better inform your location. We were hiking with kids and taking the bus into the park mostly and wanted to be near the entrance. If we were climbing or flying would have gone for Talkeetna.

We went in July as well. I am a light sleeper and had a hard time with the 22 hours of light. Out for walks in the middle of the night. The park was very interesting and we had some great hikes and one kind of scary bear experience. The bus ride got old for me and I felt like 4 days was plenty and went to Anchorage, which is a nice City. Interpretation made the site more interesting, glad we did an outing with Park Service. Amazing place.
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modollahs
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by modollahs » Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:05 am

We stayed here about 12 years ago:

http://www.earthsonglodge.com/index.html

Enjoyed it very much (especially if you like dogs). Relatively close to where you get the bus ride into the park.

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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by RNJ » Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:20 am

modollahs wrote:We stayed here about 12 years ago:

http://www.earthsonglodge.com/index.html

Enjoyed it very much (especially if you like dogs). Relatively close to where you get the bus ride into the park.
My wife and I stayed there in early Fall of 2003. A GREAT experience. Very close to the park, beautiful spot, friendly and helpful owners who know the backcountry very well. Looking forward to going back with the kids.

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Nestegg_User
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by Nestegg_User » Mon Apr 21, 2014 2:09 pm

Actually, I think that is one of the places we stayed as well (North of the park... they raised dogs for the Iditarod, if I recall. That's how we saw the places in Healy, as we drove past it on way back to park.) I think they only had space for ~12 when we were there.

On the way there we stayed in Talkeetna at one of the B&B's... didn't get there for the "Moose Dropping Festival", but have the cups.

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White Coat Investor
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by White Coat Investor » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:05 am

The Kahiltna Glacier is nice. So is The West Buttress. That's where I stayed. The views are spectacular and you are guaranteed to see "The Mountain."

https://www.google.com/search?q=the+kah ... B900%3B498

https://www.google.com/search?q=the+wes ... B900%3B600

Seriously though, I have no idea. I always camped, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the campgrounds full either. I suggest taking an Alaskan approach to summer. Don't sleep. Then you don't need lodging!
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ualdriver
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by ualdriver » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:41 am

nirvines88 wrote:So my friends and I were thinking about planning a summer trip to the Denali at the last minute. We were thinking of going from approximately July 14-20, but are having problems finding a cabin/hotel/any form of lodging. Anyone know of a comprehensive listing source for all Denali-related lodging? I have gone through some options one by one, but some of the availability calendars on these hotel website are primitive at best!
I was in the same boat you are in now, but a couple of weeks ago. I'm in the middle of putting the finishing touches on an Alaska cruise/Alaska visit, arriving a little bit after you, and found that trying to find lodging anywhere in the Seward/Anchorage/Denali tourist belt was a bit of a PITA. There's no "hotels.com" for Denali (perhaps a business opportunity for an enterprising Boglehead?), rental cars and hotels in the whole area tend to be quite expensive, the lodging websites tend to be a bit primitive/user unfriendly, and it seems like many of the innkeepers are a bit "laid back" in providing responses to queries- some taking 2 or 3 days to respond to voicemails and/or e-mails. I think they're on the same "island time" one often finds in the Caribbean. The April Alaskan heat must be getting to them :)

Regardless, when it came to finding Denali lodging, I used this site:
http://www.a1cms.com/_dcc/accommodations/

I printed it out, literally started at the top of the page, cross checked against the reviews on tripadvisor.com, and just began e-mailing and calling and visiting their websites, one by one, until I found something that worked for the group. Many were sold out. Chatting with a couple of the innkeepers verified what has already been stated above- people book these Denali lodging providers far, far in advance.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by Grasshopper » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:04 am

I think if you want to stay backcountry in Kantishna a tour company may be your best bet. I think that lodging is locked up for reservations by them, and also pricey.

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nirvines88
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Re: Last Minute Denali Trip - Where to find lodging?!

Post by nirvines88 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:05 am

Thanks for all of the info. I'll look into the links y'all posted. It may be the case where I have to put off an Alaska adventure until a future year, but we'll see!
"Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship" - Poor Richard

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