Posted March 26, 2010 by Jamie Moore
Most private vehicles are banned from Denali National Park's six-million-acre wilderness. But don't let that stop you. Pull on your walking boots, grab a bike, take a bus, or go old-school on a traditional dog-mushing expedition, and see what happens when you leave your four-wheels behind. McKinley's Creekside Cafe feeds you the best Alaskan halibut you'll ever taste. Camp Denali's cozy cabins keep you warm. And Mother Nature supplies unlimited entertainment.
McKinley Creekside Cafe: The views of Carlo Creek and the Alaska Mountain Range may distract you from the menu, but not for long. The gourmet portion sizes are colossal at this favorite cafe. Start with buttermilk pancakes and a side of reindeer sausage ($8.99) or grilled meatloaf, eggs, and homefries ($11.99). Return in the evening for the house specialty: deep-fried Alaskan halibut ($14.99). For dessert? A micro-brewed beer and a generous serving of Alaskan-crafted sunset.
Camp Denali: This resort gives new meaning to the word "camp." It's one of the best lodging options hidden in Denali's vast wilderness. Cabins have wood stoves, homemade quilts, meticulously clean outhouses, and views of surrounding mountains. The food is so good that a souvenir cookbook features in-camp recipes. And the camp has exclusive "historic operator status" so guides can show you sites few hikers have seen before. Add in workshops, evening programs, and unlimited use of resort amenities and it's a true all-inclusive, Alaskan style. The uncommon experience starts at $505 per night.
Dog-Mushing Tours: Mush your own dog team into the heart of Alaska's pristine wilderness. You'll see the true nature of the park by following excited huskies across frozen lakes, past moose, caribou, foxes, or wolves. Day trips start at $125. Make an overnight of it and your evening entertainment is a light show courtesy of the Aurora Borealis. If you're lucky, you'll fall asleep snug in a cabin or heated tent to a chorus of huskies and maybe a few harmonizing wolves. Mush!
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(Photo: iStockphoto.com/Paul Tessier)