NPR Reviews Provided by
Trip Type: Friends getaway
Published Date: Sep, 12, 2022 Travel Date: Sep, 1, 2022 Rating: 5
Labor Day week stay
A truly special place. The sites, location, and people working there are all amazing. I highly recommend for literally anyone who enjoys the outdoors and seeing the amazing country in Denali. Avid hikers and those less inclined alike will enjoy what this place has to offer.
- Value: 5
- Location: 5
- Service: 5
CosmoExPat from: Manama, Bahrain
Trip Type: Solo travel
Published Date: Sep, 9, 2022 Travel Date: Sep, 1, 2022 Rating: 5
Amazing Lodge, Amazing Location, Amazing Staff
What a fantastic experience my stay at Kantishna Roadhouse has been!!!
Originally, I had just searched for accommodation in Denali NP, and only when looking at Kantishna’s website did I see that the park access road was blocked half-way by a landslide and they were only accepting fly-in guests. That, however, made the place just so much more attractive to me, as I normally am looking for “solitude” on my vacations.
During the booking process, GM Jordan was more than helpful with answering any questions, and she even was doing the road transfer from Fairbanks to Denali Air for the fly-in into Kantishna.
All six of the Kantishna-based staff were also absolutely amazing!!!
First of all, due to the limited staff at the Roadhouse this season (due to limited guest capacity due to the road being blocked by a landslide), all of them were doing more than just their “main” designation in position, and all were very well versed in all their capacities.
Manager (plus maintenance/guide/groundskeeping/fly fishing instructor etc.) Cedar is a lovely, warm, and welcoming guy from check-in to the last night’s evening “game drive” to look for some local wildlife.
Chef Billy is the most amazing chef with an awesome creativity to make an absolutely inspired menu of sometimes partly limited availability of ingredients, including catering to specialised dietary retirements. His stories about his previous experiences in work and life in general are a delight to listen to and complement the meals perfectly.
Bartender (plus server/kitchen hand/guide/groundskeeper/gardener etc.) Ryan does not only know how to satisfy your longing for libations, but is also a fun guy to hang around with who can make you easily feel welcome and comfortable (even without having made a drink for you first) and knows quite a bit about the history of the area.
Guide (plus gardener/forager etc.) Kingsley, who is together with Ryan the second-most junior employee (after Billy) at the Roadhouse this season, is not only an internationally well-travelled guy, but he also has a very wealthy knowledge of the local wildlife, area, and history.
Maintenance (plus groundskeeper/housekeeping/“hike accompanier” etc.) guy Leo is a wealth of local knowledge, being an Alaska Native with a lot of insight into the Natives’ history of the region.
Driver & Guide (before mostly driver when the road was open, plus housekeeping etc.) Kirsty is by far the person with the most experience (45 years!) in the Kantishna area. This originally Kiwi lady is a wealth of wildlife, plant life, and photography knowledge, and is THE BEST guide to go out with when you’re looking for slow-paced walks focusing on the smaller things along the paths (plants, fungi, macro photography etc.), yet is an encyclopaedia of knowledge about everything else in nature in and around Kantishna and Denali NP in general with more than just a few stories and anecdotes of her 45 years of experience in the park.
The log cabin accommodations are well appointed with huge beds, a well functioning private bathroom with hot showers, nicely working heaters to make the place cozy when it gets cold and rainy outside, and a lovely front porch with rocking chairs to soak in the sun when it’s nice and warm.
There are several hikes available from the roadhouse (either starting directly at the property or after a short drive to the trailhead), from relatively short near-flat walks to several hours long hikes with elevation gains of more than 2000 feet.
If you go out on a longer hike, you’ll get a sack lunch to take along with you, but if you’re there in the fall season, there’ll also be plenty of berries around to snack on, especially blueberries and some cranberries.
I stayed at Kantishna for seven nights, and I could easily have stayed longer.
Carmen D from: Indianapolis, Indiana
Trip Type: Couples
Published Date: Dec, 5, 2021 Travel Date: Jul, 1, 2021 Rating: 5
An off the beaten path gem!
If you want to get away from the crowds to a nice, quiet, relaxing, remote location, this is the place to do it. Away from cell service and Wifi, the cabins at Kantishna are nestled near the end of the road, as far as you can travel into Denali National Park. They offer a variety of daily activities, including guided hikes to various locations and trips to Wonder Lake, where you can see the mountain range and Denali reflecting in the water. The staff are all friendly, fun and well informed. Our bus ride into the lodge from the Denali Visitor Center with tour guide Kirsty was phenomenal. She knew everything there is to know about the area, the history, the flora and the fauna and narrated the full trip. She slowed or stopped the bus where she could and let us off at a few stops along the way. Even when we could not get off, the bus windows slid down and she positioned the bus, so we could get unobstructed photos of the wildlife.
Probably the best thing about Kantishna though was the food. Chef Jimbo forages the local land and creates the most mouthwatering, amazing meals. It has been 5 months since our trip and we still talk about Jimbo’s food. If you have special dietary needs, he will take the time to talk with you, understand what you can and cannot eat and will create custom meals to match your needs. No matter what he makes, the taste is guaranteed to be amazing!
Some things to be aware of when traveling to Kantishna: There is not much wildlife at this end of the park so, if you think the more remote location will mean more wildlife, you will be disappointed. The wildlife on the drive in and out is incredible (we saw all of the Big 5), but once at the Kantishna Roadhouse the only mammal we saw was a rabbit. Also, bring bug spray. The place was crawling with mosquitoes. We couldn’t sit and relax outside because the mosquitoes were vicious. However, there is a great upstairs to the lodge where we could relax, with a reading room and several games. Don’t let these things deter you: For an off-the beaten path, relaxing, remote get-away, Kantishna can’t be beat.
- Value: 4
- Location: 5
- Service: 5
teatime4 from: Ithaca, New York
Trip Type: Family
Published Date: Sep, 22, 2021 Travel Date: Aug, 1, 2021 Rating: 5
Spent 3 nights in August, highly recommend!
My 25 year -old daughter and I spent 3 nights there, giving us 2 full days to hike. There are several hikes to choose from (beginning, medium, challenging) and they are guided . One needs a guide to know how to deal with wildlife. During our hike we were saw a caribou on our path - our guide knew exactly what to do (walk up hill out of its path, allow it to pass, resume hike). Food was delicious. Evening talks were excellent. Place is beautiful with stream nearby. Weather was wonderful and we could see Denali. Only downside - cabins are not soundproof, you can hear your neighbor. Otherwise cabins are comfortable and place is very well organized. Thank you Kantishna Roadhouse! I hope to return.
- Sleep Quality: 5
- Location: 5
- Service: 5
Bonnie S from: Salt Lake City, Utah
Trip Type: Family
Published Date: Sep, 17, 2021 Travel Date: Jul, 1, 2021 Rating: 4
Stay At Least Three Nights If You Can
There are many ways to experience Denali NP. This way was perfect for us. It was easy to work with the reservation agent. The staff at the roadhouse was fantastic, completely catering to our needs, and the naturalists were knowledgeable and fun to be around.
Chef Jimbo and his staff were incredible. The food was amazing. Chef has a smoker, and you can expect a smoked salmon salad option to be offered at lunch and dinner. We chose between two entrees for dinner each night. A few hot breakfast options were the same every morning. KRH provides a to-go lunch if you plan to be away, but I ate a wonderful hot lunch at the roadhouse each day. Meals are very filling, but not all-you-can-eat. This is fine dinning. The night before we left we ordered sack breakfasts to take with us on the bus.
Guests should realize the the bus trip in and out is part of the inclusive package. It's transportation, but it's also a guided tour. We were in a very basic school bus. The driver/guide stopped for all wildlife sightings in and out. For these you're not allowed to leave the bus. I think we stopped four times to stretch our legs. Three had facilities: a vault toilet; a Port-a-Potty; and a flush toilet at Eielson Vistitor Center. Yes, it is a long ride, but even without stops, the trip would take hours due to the rough road.
KRH doesn't provide any food on the trip into the park, and dinner won't be served for your group until around 8:00. I suggest you have a hearty lunch before boarding, and snacks with you if you're the munchie type. We brought crackers and fruit to keep in the cabin also.
Obviously the cost per person per night is extremely high, especially when you consider the rustic accommodations. You may balk at the two-night minimum, but a one-night stay would be crazy. You don't control your arrival and departure. Arrive at 7pm, leave at 6am. You'd be on the property for 11 hours and have one hot meal. We were exhausted on arrival. Turning around and leaving immediately was unthinkable. A two-night stay gives you ONE DAY to do stuff at the roadhouse. I felt even two nights was not long enough, so we stretched it to three nights. Having two full days was far superior to leaving after one.
There are cheaper ways to visit Denali. The weather and your odds of seeing The Big One are the same, whether you backpack for next-to-nothing or drop several grand. This was a once in a lifetime experience for us, and we chose to do it with KRH. I would do it again in a minute.
- Value: 4
- Location: 5
- Service: 5