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Denali Day Off Guide

by ATJ Posted in Off the Clock |
Denali is not a destination for the homebody at heart. Denali is a place for adventure and outdoors, for hard work and even harder play. It’s a place where fellow employees become family. A place of epic scenery, unlimited exploration – and yes, a fair-sized city not too far away. Your summer at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is about to begin, and The High One is waiting.

Find Yourself in Fairbanks

It’s 110 miles away, but Fairbanks is your destination to stay in touch with civilization. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge provides a weekly shuttle for employees to hitch a $5 ride to the ‘Banks, whether it’s for grocery shopping or an overnight stay.

Catch a movie: The Blue Loon is called the “cultural epicenter” of Fairbanks, with dinner, dancing, and $6.00 movies.

“Even if it’s just a regular old movie theater, catching up on some pop culture has never been more refreshing than after spending weeks in the wilderness!” – Christie

Fun festivals: Herald in the midnight sun at Fairbanks’ Summer Solstice Festival.

Stay for awhile: Princess Wilderness Lodges have a Fairbanks location, making an overnight stay hassle-free!

For more Fairbanks hot spots, peruse our Fairbanks Day Off Guide.

Near the Lodge

Located one mile from the entrance to Denali National Park (known as “The Canyon” locally), Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is in a quiet little town. Our patrons and our employees come here for the chance to experience truly untouched wilderness, and we like to keep it that way.

Despite its seclusion, there are still a few places to kick back and enjoy a tasty beverage. Sip on a cuppa joe at Black Bear Coffeehouse and window shop at Three Bears gift store. Grab a bite and rejuvenate on your days off.

Lynx Creek Pizza and Pub: Located right on property, this is the go-to for a bite to eat and a great social atmosphere. Lynx Creek’s 24 year run proves just how yummy their pizza is.

The Boardwalk: Right across the street you’ll find a dozen shops selling everything from hiking boots and sleeping bags to paintings and prints from Alaskan artists. Find a quirky message bag made from neck ties at Dizzy Lizzy’s or a batik sarong at the Magic Carpet. Don’t forget to send an Ulu knife home to mom!

In Healy

Located 11 miles down the wildflower lined Parks Highway from The Canyon, Healy is the home of Denali Princess Employee Housing called Princess Homestead and Princess Stampede Lodge. Its small town feel and gorgeous mountain views will make you feel at home the moment you step off the bus.

Totem Bar and Grille: A little bit of everything – breakfast all day and an eclectic lunch and dinner menu. It’s a fun place for big groups to socialize.

Outpost Bar & Grill: Located in the Princess Homestead, the Outpost will keep you busy with good eats and better drinks on the days you don’t get out of town.

Black Diamond Golf: Grab a bite at this local favorite and stay for a game of golf under the Midnight Sun.

Donna’s House of Petals and Gifts: Get your caffeine fix at Donna’s! Coffee, tea and refreshing smoothies are served up amongst fun local gifts like cards, jewelry and toys. It’s just a short walk from the post office and library.

Righteous Hikes

When it comes to unbelievable hiking, location is everything.

Lucky you.

Your summer will be spent on the cusp of Denali National Park, with over 6 million acres at your discovery’s disposal. The best part: with 20+ hours of daylight, you can hike any time you’d like.

Horseshoe Lake: The absolutely idyllic evening stroll. Horseshoe Lake is near Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and less than a mile roundtrip – the perfect way to unwind. The lake is a beaver’s paradise; veer off the beaten path and you can spy on them chomping down trees!


Mt. Healy Overlook Trail: This breathtaking hike winds up Mt. Healy and offers some magnificent views of the Nenana Valley. Keep your eyes peeled for the snow-covered top of Mt. McKinley in the distance! And bring a sweater – even in the summer, the top can be a bit chilly!

Choose Your Own Adventure: If you have a whole day to spend out in the wilderness, don’t limit yourself to the hikes close to the lodge. Take a Camper Bus into the park and explore the tundra your way.

“If you’re headed out on your own, be sure to check out a GPS from Princess Homestead so you don’t get lost!” – Brian

Ride the Rapids

Denali Park - Nenana River

Denali National Park may be landlocked, but wild water adventures are yours to conquer.

Whitewater Rafting, Nenana River: It’s touted as some of the best whitewater rafting ever – not just in Denali, not just in Alaska, not just in North America. Ever. Choose from thrilling Class IV rapids, a leisurely float down river, and any level of adrenaline in between.

Denali Detail: The Nenana River is glacier fed and it is cold – only 33 degrees – and full of silt, which gives it its unique color.

Decidedly Denali

Flight tours to Mt. McKinley: Landing on a glacier on The High One is an experience full of superlatives: the highest mountain, the best view, the most epic day off. Fly over untouched glaciers and undiscovered lakes on your way to Ruth Glacier where you will land and spend the afternoon exploring.

“Once we landed, I built a snowman – the only snowman to ever exist at 13,000 feet.” – Christie

Never –ending sunlight: At the beginning of the summer, the sun will stay up for 21 hours or more. Catch a sunrise before you head to bed. Pull an all-nighter just to see a sunset. Start a pick-up game of basketball at 11:00 pm. Get creative.

Awesome Aurora: Later in the season as nights grow longer, employees head to Dry Creek (about 15 minutes from employee housing) to watch the Aurora Borealis.

“The magic of the lights is enchanting, and after seeing the Northern Lights, it is impossible not to come back for another summer in Alaska.” – Brian

Denali’s Shortlist

Denali Park

Best Cuppa Joe: Donna’s Petals and Gifts in Healy. Be sure to say hi to Donna!

Best Place for a Brewskie: 49th State Brewery

Coolest Animal to See: Lynx (keep your eyes peeled around Horseshoe Lake)

Best Place for the Under-21 Crowd: Totem Bar and Grille

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