Ultima Thule Lodge
Chitina, AK 99566, USA
Photo courtesy of Ultima Thule Lodge
Ultima Thule LodgeGuests at Ultima Thule can rest assured they’re in good hands. The family-run lodge isn’t headed by just any family, but by the intrepid Claus family, led by legendary bush pilot and adventurer Paul Claus. He’s known as much for his skilled glacier landings as his mountaineering exploits, which have taken him as far as Everest and as close to home as nearby Mount St. Elias (which is actually bigger than the famed Himalayan peak, though Everest starts at a higher elevation). Hand-hewn logs from the original rustic cabin built by Paul’s father, John Claus, still form a wing of the main lodge at Ultima Thule, though much else has been added to create the world-class resort. There are now five private cabins outfitted with Craftsman furniture, plush featherbeds and bearskin rugs; a wood-fired sauna; and a large vegetable garden whose harvest (along with local game and fish) forms much of the meals. But the real appeal here lies in the unscripted adventure excursions, some led by Paul himself in a two-seater Super Cub, that may take guests from exploring an abandoned gold mine one moment to viewing herds of Dall sheep roaming across vast Wrangell–St. Elias National Park the next.