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Hotel Review: Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Alaska CruiseTour . 2012 . Sep 22

In addition to our 7-night Alaska cruise on the Diamond Princess, we added on a 3-night land tour after the cruise.  Widely known as cruisetours, the 3-day land program brings us further up north into the interior of Alaska, from McKinley to Denali and finally to Fairbanks to get a chance to view the awesome Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis.   Cruise tours can either be done before or after the cruise.

Our first overnight stop was at Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.  This lodge, as the name suggests, is owned by Princess Cruises, but is also open for reservation by guests who are not on the cruisetours.

The Main Lodge and Surroundings

This is the first time we are staying in a lodge! Lodges typically feature a log exterior and a homely, woody interior, decorated in a rustic manner, complete with a fireplace, cozy seating and a high ceiling. 

The check-in counter at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.  We were already pre-checked in and could proceed straight to our guest room when we arrived.

Beautiful surroundings..

The Room

There are no guests rooms at the Main Lodge, but the guests rooms are all housed under other Lodges scattered around the Main Lodge.  Our assigned Lodge (Lodge 5) was a 3 minute walk away from the Main Lodge.

There had been reports of moose sightings previously at the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, so we were rather pleased when we were assigned a room on the ground level.  Maybe I can have a moose wandering near my window in the morning!  (as it turns out, we had no such luck).

The room is spacious and clean.  Although not as luxurious or modern as a hotel, it wins by having a homely and cozy feel to it.   The room is decorated with pictures and figurines of Alaskan animals.
However, for reasons that I cannot understand, the complementary wi-fi was only available at the main lodge.

The bathroom is spacious and clean. Bath shampoo and soap are provided, but not toothbrushes. There is a cupboard for hanging of clothes too.

View from the window.  Windows are gauzed to prevent insects from coming in.

The Facilities

There isn’t really anything much else to do here, for as the name of the lodge suggests, we are in the middle of the wilderness!  The hot tub facility is located just opposite Lodge 5, housed in a little shack of its own.   There are only 2 pools here, but no one wanted to use the facility because they are outdoors, so it actually makes a nice and quiet romantic spot.   We would have taken a dip here if not for the fact that our bathing suits were all in the  ‘Join me in Fairbanks’ luggage!

Views of Mount McKinley

The viewing decks of the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge offers a awesome sweeping view of the Alaska Range, including Mt. McKinley.

Mt McKinley, previously known as Denali is the tallest mountain in the United States.  It is not visible on most days except when the weather is very clear.  We didn’t have much luck during our stay at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge as it was rainy and foggy, but other peaks (Mt Foraker, Mt Hunter and Mt Silverthorn) can be clearly seen.

Hiking Trails at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

The various hiking routes pinned up at the notice board.  You can go to the tour desk and ask for a copy of the exact same map or download a copy of the hiking map here.

As we walk towards the main lodge from Lodge 5, we passed by the entrance point of the Hill Trail, which we will eventually end up at the end of the day.

There were signs near the entrance which provided more information on the trail.

Some trails were closed due to inclement weather, and some other because of wildlife activity in the area.
The Lodge Trail was one of them.

Nevertheless, we still managed to take some photos near the trail entrance.

While at the tour desk checking out the walking trails, we were approached by a lady from the Texas, Trish and her partner who asked if we were interested to join them for their walk.  Trish was concerned that they would run into wild animals such as bears on the trail and would like to have company for safety reasons.  We were happy to have the extra company.  :)

After much deliberation, we finally decided on the Creek Overlook Path, which will bring us far out to the Lodge Entrance road and far where we managed to catch the sight of the Creek.

Uphill task at the South Loop Trail. Fortunately, it is the only steep incline on this trail.

The sprawling premises of the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge as seen from the higher elevation of the trail.  We would have loved to sit here to read a book if not for the drizzling rain..

On our return journey, we took the Hill Trail at the intersection near Private Drive.

Moss of Alaska.

 Informational boards along the return hill trail...

Talks and Presentations at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

Talks and presentations have been pre-arranged by the lodge.  These are held at the Main Lodge and are free for all guests.

Bird Treatment and Learning Center (TLC) Program at 4.30pm.  A volunteer brings a rehabilitated Bald Eagle to the Main Lodge and gives an educational talk about the eagle and its natural habitat.  Prior to this, we had no idea that Bald Eagles were that big! They certainly don’t look that imposing when perched on a tree!

Talk on ‘Bears of Alaska’ at 5:30pm.  A ranger came to give a presentation on her experience and knowledge with bears in Alaska.

Skin of a mountain goat

After the presentation, we went to take another good look at the Mt. Mckinley ranges before our dinner at the Lodge.

Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge
Mile Post 133 Parks Hwy
Denali State Park, AK 99683
Phone: 907-733-2900

Read all reviews about Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge at TripAdvisor!

Coming up next:  Restaurant review – Mountain View Dining Room

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