Backcountry Luxe: Exploring Alaska’s Adventure Lodges

Posted by
Emily Pennington
September 22, 2023
Updated October 15, 2023

Looking at the exterior of Tordrillo Lodge
Looking at the exterior of Tordrillo Lodge - Photo: Emily Pennington

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From its brown bears jockeying for spawning river salmon to its sky-high, glacier-capped peaks, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures in Alaska.

I was lucky enough to spend five weeks road-tripping around Alaska’s national parks on a shoestring budget in 2020, then returned in 2022 to cruise the fjords with Seabourn, and again in 2023 for some luxury R&R at the state’s remote resorts. I’ve hauled a 40-pound backpack over rugged, trail-free mountains above the Arctic Circle for days on end, snapped photos of grizzly bears chomping salmon out of a roaring waterfall, and gone ice climbing in the country’s largest national park.

To me, Alaska is a symbol of what America once was and what it can be when the conservation of huge swaths of land is placed front and center. For that reason, it’s a phenomenal place for nature lovers of all ages to explore and marvel at. Is it expensive to get off the beaten path here? Yes. But is it worth it? Also yes.

Related Read: Hiking Denali National Park & Preserve


Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Insdie the Tordrillo Lodge
Alaskan adventure lodges often come with a luxurious interior to enjoy after the outdoor adventures. Photo: Emily Pennington

Why you should stay: This gorgeous year-round site is a quick, 30-minute flight from Anchorage and offers flightseeing, expert-led fly fishing, and heli-skiing.

  • Sleeps: Up to 12
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Rates from: $8,950 for 3 nights (all-inclusive)

Somehow, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge manages to hit that oh-so-perfect mix of providing a truly luxury experience without being at all stuffy. Friendly expert staff members are always on hand to help you fire up the on-site sauna, show you how to tie flies for fishing, or paddle a viking ship-themed canoe around neighboring Judd Lake. Rooms are elegant and simple, with luxe bath products and cozy linens provided.

Sure, the stays at this Alaskan gem are splurge-y, but they include three chef-prepared meals daily, plus the opportunity to explore via the property’s A-Star helicopter, whether that be on glacier hikes, a remote via ferrata, fishing for pink salmon or, in the winter months, skiing.


Ultima Thule Lodge

Why you should stay: Located inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Ultima Thule prides itself on providing impeccable stays and chef-driven dining on the banks of the Chitina River.

  • Sleeps: Up to 14, two-bedroom cabins available
  • Minimum stay: 4 nights
  • Rates from: $12,500 for 4 nights (all-inclusive)

If exploring the vast interior mountains of Alaska (and staying inside the largest protected landmass on earth) is high on your bucket list, look no further than Ultima Thule. Situated 100 miles from any roads, on the banks of the glacially-fed Chitina River, this off-grid lodge is home to cozy log cabins, a sauna and bathhouse, and some seriously sweet mountain vistas. The package rate is steep, like many on this list, but it includes locally harvested, chef-prepared meals and daily bush plane adventures to glaciers, wildflower-studded valleys, and wildlife viewing.

Soaking in the hot tub at Tordrillo lodge
Soaking in the hot tub at Tordrillo lodge – Photo: Emily Pennington

Alyeska Resort

Why you should stay: Enjoy phenomenal hiking and skiing access a mere 40-minute drive from Anchorage.

  • Sleeps: 2-4
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $193/night

Alyeska Resort is an excellent, year-round adventure base camp for families and couples alike. In the summer months, guests can enjoy easy access to Chugach Mountain hiking trails and on-site adventures like the brand-new Veilbreaker Skybridges, guided e-bike tours, and scenic gondola trips up the adjacent slopes. Wintertime brings some sincerely epic skiing, which can be accessed right out the door of the hotel. Down for a splurge? Check out the newly renovated Black Diamond Club suites on the 8th floor, then pop over to the Nordic Spa for some post-adventure R&R.


Eleven Winterlake Lodge

Why you should stay: Part of the uber-luxe Eleven Lodge collection, Winterlake combines six lakefront cabins with a million acres of heli-accessible wilderness for the ultimate Alaska vacay.

  • Sleeps: 1-3 bedroom cabins available
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Rates from: $8,400/night (all-inclusive)

Want to wake up and trek on a glacier? Or kayak around a remote lake with the chance of spotting moose and grizzlies? Eleven Winterlake Lodge provides loads of daily included excursion options, in addition to a wood-paneled main lodge, cedar hot tub, and wood-fired sauna. At dinner time, locally-caught seafood pairs perfectly with produce grown in on-site greenhouses, and later at night, guests get to kick back and unwind in their own, private luxury cabins.

The view of the mountains and lake from the Tordrillo lodge
The best part about Alaskan adventure lodges: the scenic views. Photo: Emily Pennington

Tutka Bay Lodge

Why you should stay: Tucked away at the edge of Kachemak Bay State Park, near Homer, Tutka Bay Lodge is a wellspring of adventure and relaxation, with daily cooking classes, massage therapists, and local microbrew tastings.

  • Sleeps: 2-4
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: Varies by accommodation and itinerary

Every two-night stay at the esteemed Tutka Bay Lodge includes a deep sea fishing trip or a bear-watching tour on the Katmai coastline, which is a pretty special bonus, considering that the lodge rates include complimentary massages, beer tastings, yoga, cooking classes, and meals. When they’re not out and about, visitors here get to bed down in one of six plush, private accommodations and watch the midnight sun set over the neighboring bay.

Related Read: 18 Beautifully Remote Cabin Rentals in the USA


Sheldon Chalet

Why you should stay: Touted as “the highest stay” in Alaska, Sheldon Chalet is perched on a snowy escarpment on the edge of Denali, the highest peak in the U.S.

  • Sleeps: Up to 10
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Rates from: $32,000 per night for up to 4 guests

You’ve probably seen the drool-worthy Sheldon Chalet all over Instagram, and with good reason. Wake up with second-to-none views of Denali at this luxury five-room stunner that is situated on the flanks of the tallest peak in the country. Glacier gaze from the private porch, wrap yourself in faux fur throws and plow through a good book, or enjoy the fresh, local seafood that the chef whips up in the evenings. Daily excursions vary from igloo building, trekking on the Ruth Glacier, or helicopter flightseeing trips.

Looking at the exterior of Tordrillo Lodge
Alaska’s Tordrillo Lodge is a quaint-yet-perfect adventure lodge for your next wilderness visit. Photo: Emily Pennington

Chena Hot Springs Resort

Why you should stay: Situated in the vast Arctic outside of Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs Resort is a true locals’ favorite and a great spot for winter northern lights sightings.

  • Sleeps: 2-8
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $120/night

Chena Hot Springs Resort is a soak-worthy stay in any season, whether your travels involve hiking above the Arctic Circle in summer sunshine or arriving via snow coach to try to spot the northern lights in the dead of winter. Plus, they offer on-site massage therapy to further ease those muscles. Is there a better way to relax than warm massages and the natural hot water of a hot spring?

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