The Best Hotels in Alaska
You’ll be considering hibernation yourself when you see Alaska’s rustic lodgings. Gasp-worthy views of inlets, mountains, and glaciers are de rigueur, as are sightings of grizzly bears, bald eagles, and sea otters. Just remember to go outside—Denali National Park awaits.
35 Richardson Hwy, Valdez, AK 99686, USA
Dreaming of chasing fresh, untrammeled powder? Then Tsaina Lodge, widely regarded as the birthplace of the Alaskan freeskiing scene, is for you. Its location on Thompson Pass, a gap in the Chugach Mountains known for its record-setting snowfalls (averaging over 700 inches a year), and dramatic slopes combine for epic heli-ski exploits on runs that average a steep 3,500 feet. Come summer, the repertoire of helicopter-assisted adventure excursions widens: Fly out to fish, hike, or glacier trek the seemingly limitless surroundings. Après-activity luxuries await back at the lodge, which is situated on the grounds of what had once been an avalanche-safe roadhouse, built in 1949. The dilapidated building was bulldozed and rebuilt in 2012, and the result is a boutique hotel that stands out for its modern, contemporary design. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto either glacier or forest from each of the 24 rooms, and there’s a gym, yoga space, and spa—along with a fine-dining restaurant with a focus on local seafood, meat, and game, and the reopened Tsaina Bar, legendary among early freeskiiers.
4541 Sawa Cir Ste #1, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Far from Juneau’s cruise crowd, this secluded oasis is popular with honeymooners—and the appeal is clear. Situated inside Tongass National Forest, its 10 rooms and suites come furnished with cozy fireplaces, while two offer a private balcony overlooking a small glacial kettle pond. The serenity extends to the inn’s rain-forest garden, dotted with a wooden footbridge, three gazebos, a sauna, and two hot tubs surrounded by lush Sitka spruce and hemlock trees. Those looking to experience local floes don’t have to venture far. It’s a mere eight-minute drive to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Expect phenomenal views of the 13-mile-long river of ice and the lofty peaks of Southeast Alaska’s Coast Mountains, along with miles of hiking trails that meander past cascading waterfalls and salmon streams.
1000 Arlberg Avenue
Situated just 40 miles from downtown Anchorage and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, this year-round resort feels worlds away, set deep in a glacier-carved valley off scenic Seward Highway. With 304 rooms and a dizzying number of amenities, it also feels like a world unto itself. There are eight dining and drinking options, a fitness center, a heated saltwater lap pool with mountain views, and a spa that provides Arctic mud facials. But guests come to Alaska to commune with the great outdoors, and Alyeska offers its fair share of world-class experiences, including the longest continuous double-black-diamond ski run in North America and more than 1,600 acres of skiable terrain. The staff can arrange excursions that range from heli-skiing and dogsledding tours in winter to naturalist-led walks and glacier cruises in summer. For breathtaking panoramic views, the resort even has its own 60-passenger aerial tram for whisking guests straight from the hotel up 2,300 feet to the top of Mount Alyeska.
939 West 5th Avenue
In 1964, a 9.2-magnitude earthquake—the second most powerful ever recorded—ripped through the south coast of Alaska, devastating much of downtown Anchorage. After surveying the damage, real-estate developer Walter J. Hickel, who would later go on to serve two terms as the state’s governor, vowed to build Alaska’s biggest and best hotel. The result, a massive 546-room complex spread out over three towers, is still the city’s most luxurious, known for its attentive concierge, excellent athletic club, and wealth of dining options. The elegant Crow’s Nest restaurant offers dishes that incorporate French technique with regional ingredients, like king crab–studded bouillabaisse, along with a 10,000-bottle wine collection; on a clear day, 360-degree views include the iconic peaks of Denali. One more reason to visit: The property was inducted as a member of the Historic Hotels of America in 2016.
Owned and operated by the same family and situated about a mile apart from each other, Camp Denali and North Face Lodge are more than deserving of bragging rights: They’re part of less than a handful of accommodations inside Denali National Park and Preserve with prime views of America’s highest peak. But the properties—and amenities—differ. Each of Camp Denali’s 18 cabins offers an authentic, close-to-the-land experience: Propane lamps provide light, a wooden stove gives off heat, drinking water comes from an outdoor spigot, and a short path leads to an outhouse. For guests who prefer more creature comforts after a day taking in the rugged outdoors, North Face Lodge’s guest rooms all have electricity and private bathrooms. Locally sourced meals are served in a cozy wood-clad dining room, and a common sitting room oozes charm and conviviality with leather sofas surrounding a stone hearth fireplace, where you can choose a book from the stacks of shelves or share tales of your into-the-wild adventures with fellow guests.
Each year, six million–acre Denali National Park and Preserve gets roughly 400,000 visitors, who come in hopes of spotting the park’s own version of the Big Five (grizzly bears, moose, caribou, wolves, and flocks of Dall sheep) and to take in majestic views of the highest mountain peak in the country. Only a fraction of that number, however, escape the crowds and tour buses to make their way to the tail end of the 92-mile-long Park Road, which winds deep into the heart of Denali’s rugged backcountry to the old gold town of Kantishna. Those who do are rewarded at this all-inclusive vacation resort with 42 rustic cedar cabins, some of which have private decks facing secluded Moose Creek. (All come equipped with private indoor bathrooms and heaters, welcome treats in these parts). Activities range from morning yoga classes and gold panning to guided hikes and mountain biking excursions. After an invigorating day outdoors, guests can pamper themselves in the new spa, which offers treatments like Swedish massage with hot stone therapy.
Chitina, AK 99566, USA
Guests at Ultima Thule can rest assured they’re in good hands: The lodge is run by the intrepid Claus family, particularly Paul Claus, the legendary bush pilot and adventurer who is known as much for his skilled glacier landings as his mountaineering exploits (he’s gone as far as Everest and as close to home as nearby Mount St. Elias). Hand-hewn logs from the original cabin built by Paul’s father, John Claus, still form a wing of the main lodge, though much 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 the foundation of many 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, which 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.
320 Dock Street
Generations of anglers have seen their dreams come true at this former salmon cannery turned sport-fishing resort, where one lucky guest reported reeling in a nearly 50-pound Chinook, or king salmon, within his first hour of being on the water. Credit goes to the location, spread out over 52 acres on Prince of Wales Island, where a confluence of spring runoff and ocean currents pulls in staggering annual returns of king salmon. But even nonanglers have something to marvel at here. The resort’s setting on craggy coastline amid Tongass National Forest—the country’s largest—means phenomenally diverse wildlife awaits, from humpback whales and puffins to Sitka black-tailed deer and bald eagles. After a full day immersed in the great outdoors, guests retreat to accommodations that range from comfortable clapboard cabins along the water—renovated former cannery crew quarters—to luxe two-story townhouses.
1785 Iniakuk Avenue
Without any roads for at least 100 miles in any direction, Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge is so remote that getting to Fairbanks is only the start of it. Reaching the fly-in-only property, which has three bedrooms and one suite, involves two more flights, the last leg a floatplane to serene Iniakuk Lake, some 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Not secluded enough? Guests can opt for two even more far-flung cabins—both situated deep in Gates of the Arctic National Park, and both involving yet another flight. Whichever option you choose, jaw-droppingly-gorgeous nature awaits, from sand- and gravel-lined beaches for tranquil strolls to vast open tundra for watching hundreds of migrating caribou, all with the immense peaks of the Brooks Range as a majestic backdrop. All-inclusive tours also include personalized guided adventure excursions that may range from dogsledding through winding river valleys to overhead flight-fishing (which is as amazing as it sounds) for arctic char.
Tordrillo Mountains, Alaska 99682, USA
Just a 45-minute floatplane ride from Anchorage along the banks of the Talachulitna River and Judd Lake, this multistructure resort combines a six-room flagship lodge, which was renovated in 2017, with a lakeside bar and dining room (and 500-bottle wine cellar); a private four-room lodge; and two smaller individual cabins, all with views of either the Alaska or Tordrillo ranges. But guests don’t come here to just ogle the mountains—they take them on. With Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe and Alaska heli-ski pioneer Mike Overcast behind the resort, plus access to 1.2 million acres of untrammeled terrain with runs that top out at 7,500 feet, world-class heli-ski adventures are practically guaranteed. And an exclusive partnership with Winterlake, another notable resort nearby, allows guests to heli-ski even further north into the Tordrillo Range and Neacola Mountains.
Kenai Peninsula Borough, Homer, AK 99603, USA
Outdoor and culinary adventurers alike are drawn to this 11-acre property situated at the entrance of a stunning seven-mile fjord in Kachemak Bay. Guests can kayak through hidden coves to glimpse otters and porpoises, hike past alpine meadows, or deep-sea fish for salmon. But where Tutka Bay really separates itself from other Alaskan lodgings is in its culinary offerings. Visitors dig for steamer clams or stop by a local oyster farm for their evening’s feast, and continue the hands-on approach with lessons in the resort’s one-of-a-kind cooking school, housed in a repurposed crabbing boat. The focus ranges from Kachemak Bay cuisine to global influences, prepared with regional seafood and homegrown vegetables. After dinner, you’ll retire to one of six comfortably furnished oceanfront cabins, the most exclusive of which has three bedrooms and is surrounded by old-growth Sitka spruce trees.