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Mt. McKinley Day Off Guide

by ATJ Posted in Off the Clock |
Past summer employees are here to help you make the most out of your next day off

Make Friends On Your Day Off

Hike Like You Mean It

“When you get to the top of Butte, you can stand at the highest point and feel really special. And then you remember that if you fall it’s a really long way back to the bottom.” -Ben

On your days off take advantage of the stunning scenery and overwhelming beauty of the Alaskan outdoors. Wind through the foothills of Mt. McKinley, spend the day in Denali State Park, roam the Mat-Su Valley and discover adventure at every turn.

Hatcher Pass (2 hours south): Spend the day in the epic Talkeetna Mountains with views of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the alpine waters of Willow Creek. Not your average day hike.

Butte (2 hours south): A quick but vertical hike, with the highest point a panorama of the surrounding country.

Cascade Trail on Byers Lake: Close to the Mt. McKinley Lodge, this six-mile course offers some of the most majestic views of “the High One” from the east side. The trail is not difficult and great for a fun day trip.

Denali Backcountry: The Chulitna, Susitna and Talkeetna Rivers wind through Denali State Park, and Mt. McKinley looms above. Get your backcountry hiking permit at Denali’s Backcountry Information Center, and plan your own adventure.

The Hangar: Grab a drink and unwind after a long day. Share stories over a couple of pints – it’s a great way to make a new friend.

The Altitude: Get online and check in with the rest of the world. Send some emails, kick back and relax. It’s low-key, and the place to be if you’re under 21.

Head to Town: Trapper Creek is only 15 minutes away – just a quick jaunt! The slightly-larger Talkeetna is less than an hour on the free shuttle bus from the lodge. Immerse yourself in the local charm of true Alaskan towns.

A free shuttle bus is also available to Anchorage every week during June, July and August. The biggest city in Alaska is 2 ½ hours away.

West Rib Pub and Grill: Named after the famous route up Mt. McKinley, West Rib is located in Talkeetna. Rub elbows with world-famous mountaineers who celebrate at the West Rib after conquering Mt. McKinley, and dig into a caribou burger.

Riding the Rapids

With three rivers nearby ready for rafting, land lubbers quickly transform into water lovers. Grab a life jacket and get wet!

“Not only was our boat captain very knowledgeable of the history and science of the Chulitna River, our ride was full of incredible views of Mt. McKinley.” -Robby

Matanuska Lion’s Head: An exciting, short stretch of Class III-IV whitewater under stunning rock formations. Pack your neoprene –the water is cold!

Chulitna River: With a put-in point less than five miles from the lodge, rafting the Chulitna River is the best way to take advantage of sunny days (and employee discounts!). Pull out in Talkeetna, and get some rejuvenating grub at the West Rib.

Fishing Frenzy

Fishing Frenzy!

What would an Alaskan summer be without some of the best salmon in the world? Chinook, Sockeye, Coho – you name it, you can find it in the waters near Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

Wade Fishing: Spend a leisurely day wade fishing on the banks of the Chulitna, Susitna or Talkeetna. Wander the shores at your own pace, hike up your waders and get wet. There’s no better way to become one with the water.

Drift Boat Fishing: Looking for a way to cover more water in less time? Grab a boat and launch yourself into the sparkling waters of Alaska’s rivers. Since fishing is one of the main pastimes of Mat-Su locals, finding a river guide is easy.

Where the Wild Things Are

Never thought you’d get the chance to see a moose? A bald eagle? Think again. Mt. McKinley is thriving with the creatures you only hear about in stories – in fact, Denali State Park Rangers say that there are more black bears in this region than any other worldwide! Bring your camera.

Exciting Alaskan Wildlife!

True Tails

“I saw eight bald eagles while rafting down the Chulitna.”

“After a moment, an ermine hopped out from under the deck with a vole almost as big as it was in its mouth. It pranced across the path within inches of my feet as proud of itself as it could possibly be and completely oblivious to my presence.”

“I could see both moose and grizzly bears from the plane.”


Strolling Through Alaska

Adventure seekers don’t have to travel far for a thrill. The staff at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge is privy to some of the most out-of-this-world opportunities you never thought you’d get to take. Check it out.

“I used my employee discount to take an airplane ride from Talkeetna which circled around Mt. McKinley and landed on one of the glaciers just below the peak. The sky was cloudless, and the pilot brought us to where we could see all of the nearby mountains, pointing out all the geographic and geologic features along the way. We watched as mountain climbers got into position to summit Mt. McKinley.” – Robby

“I set up camp in the middle of the Chulitna River on a large gravel bar. I took my girlfriend there, built a bonfire and we spent the night just the two of us and the immenseness of Alaska all around – mountains in full view.” – Brian

What else can you do? The possibilities are endless.

Mountaineering experts can register with the National Park and take the backcountry by storm.

Pack rafting is fun and new to most people. Combination camping and water rafting, it’s a whole new way to experience the Mt. McKinley area. Grab a couple of friends and take to the water.

Taking it Easy – Alaska Style

“Curling up with a nice hot burger in the comfort of my own room with a half-read book by my side and the knowledge that I can sleep in if I want to – those are my favorite (and rare!) day-off moments!” – Ben

Take it Easy

Best Places for Alaskan Bites

  • West Rib: Best place for a burger
  • Talkeetna Roadhouse: Best place for homemade pastries and a piping-hot breakfast
  • Café Michele: Best place for salmon dinner
  • Mountain High Pizza Pie: Best place for an Alaskan calzone
  • Fairview: Best place to grab a drink

Rainy Days Off

Avoid sunburns and crowds by not changing your plans because of the weather! Rain is moose weather so follow through with your fishing and rafting plans.

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