8 Best Alaska Wilderness Lodges

These Alaska lodges offer a deeper connection to nature along with a sense of adventure — and a touch of luxury.

The wilderness of Alaska has long captured the imagination of adventurers — and for good reason. With over 650,000 square miles of land and roughly 700,000 residents, there are great swaths of the state that few humans have explored.

One of the best ways to really experience the Alaska of your dreams is to stay at a backcountry lodge. These far-flung locales offer a deeper connection to nature and give travelers a glimpse into an increasingly rarefied Alaska. And, despite usually being out of cell phone reception, you won't exactly be roughing it — these destinations marry one-of-a-kind experiences with some serious personal pampering. Here are some of our favorite Alaska wilderness lodges.

Salmon Falls Resort

Salmon Falls Resort in Alaska
Courtesy of Salmon Falls Resort

Sitting in the midst of Tongass National Forest in Alaska's famed Inside Passage, adventure is literally at the doorstep of Salmon Falls Resort. Originally built in 1986, the resort opened with the intention of inviting newbie and expert anglers in for fishing experiences, but has since expanded to include flightseeing, kayaking tours, shrimping, hiking trips, and excursions to downtown Ketchikan. Guests can also arrange salmon roe and wine pairings, wildlife-watching excursions (think humpback and orca whales, seals, eagles, and sea lions), cruises via zodiac, and bear-watching expeditions.

Ultima Thule

Exterior of Ultima Thule Lodge
Arturo Polo Ena/Courtesy of Chasing Alaska

It's fitting that Ultima Thula means "a distant or unknown region" considering it's located in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Reserve. Clocking in at 13.2 million acres (roughly the same size as the five smallest states combined), the park is the largest in the U.S. and an unparalleled playground for those looking to get into the outdoors. Ultima Thule makes it easy to explore the park far and wide by providing guests with a pilot and a bush plane to get the most out of the experience. You might spend one day picnicking on the largest non-polar glacier in the world and packrafting in an alpine lake and the next exploring abandoned gold mines and hiking across nameless mountains. While the cabins are separate, meals are served in the main lodge and often include locally harvested salmon and wild game, as well as vegetables from the lodge's greenhouse.

Winterlake Lodge

Winterlake main lodge
Courtesy of Within the Wild

If you're craving a meaningful immersion into some of Alaska's most remote lands, this is the way to go. This wilderness outpost, over 100 miles from the closest road, was once a simple trapper's cabin located on the famed Iditarod National Historic Trail. Today, Winterlake Lodge is a lush retreat where each guest's itinerary is personalized every day, with activities ranging from helicopter rides to glacier treks to river rafting adventures. Guests bunk down in Winterlake's six hand-crafted cabins and nosh on incredible meals made with locally sourced ingredients.

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Aerial view of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge
Courtesy of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Sure, Tordrillo has an epic winter program, with heli-skiing and snowboarding in deep, perfect powder on completely untracked mountains, but you'd be remiss to think it's just a cold weather destination. The spacious main lodge and the two private cabins make for a luxurious year-round basecamp that's just a 40-minute flight from Anchorage. In the summer, some of the activities adventurers can opt for include whitewater rafting, alpine hikes, Via Ferrata climbing, and heli-biking. At the end of the day, the 500-bottle wine cellar, lakeside dining room, and copper hot tub don't disappoint.

Talon Lodge

The deck and view at Talon Lodge
Tim Shobe/Courtesy of Talon Lodge

In much of Alaska, fishers have a choice to make: saltwater or freshwater fish? Not at Talon Lodge near Sitka, though. Here anglers can zip out into the open ocean to hunt for king or silver salmon and halibut or venture down quieter streams in search of rainbow trout, sockeye salmon, and more. But if fishing isn't your idea of a good time, the 13-room lodge also offers ATV trips, kayaking, hiking, and whale watching. After your day of adventuring, enjoy chatting with your fellow travelers over meals produced by their visiting chefs and locally crafted beers at their highly-rated beachfront bar.

Tutka Bay Lodge

For travelers looking for a lodge at the intersection of adventure and leisure, Tutka Bay is the spot. Intrepid guests can spend the day going halibut fishing, bear viewing, or glacier trekking, while those looking for a more low-key experience can tootle around tide pools, do yoga on the expansive deck overlooking the water, join daily wine and beer tastings, or take a three-course cooking class (using all locally grown or harvested ingredients) in a retired crabbing boat with celebrated Alaskan chefs Kirsten and Mandy Dixon.

Tikchik Narrows Lodge

Exterior of Tikchik Narrow Lodge from water
Courtesy of Tikchik Narrow Lodge

Few travelers to the 49th state make it this far north — quite honestly, there are likely few lifelong Alaskans who know where this spot is. Tikchik is found in one of the most rugged regions of the state, only accessible by seaplane from the tiny city of Dillingham in southwestern Alaska. Its position is prime for sportfishing, boasting all five of Alaska's species of salmon, as well as seven species of freshwater fish. The lodge has a large communal area with a natural stone fireplace and a circular dining room that is suspended above the lake, so the views are jaw-dropping (and in the summer, the sunsets are endless).

Sheldon Chalet

Exterior of Sheldon Chalet
Hunter Douglas/Courtesy of Sheldon Chalet

Sheldon Chalet is arguably one of the hardest-to-reach lodges in the world. Located just 10 miles from the summit of Denali (the tallest peak in North America), the only way to get here is by bush plane or helicopter. Founded by the children of the adventurer and pilot who famously mapped the mountain, the opulent, all-inclusive five-bedroom lodge sits in stark contrast to the wild, frozen land it sits on. Each room is filled with all the coziness of faux-fur blankets, crackling fireplaces, and comfy slippers. But you're not expected to just enjoy the scenery from the picture windows — outdoor activities include spelunking in snow caverns, snowshoe glacier trekking, and gourmet picnics. In the winter, cross your fingers for an ethereal northern lights show, as you're guaranteed to have front-row seats.

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