Hotel at a Glance: Knik River Lodge
Towering pine trees and snow-capped mountains sit right outside Knik River Lodge’s rustic cabins, which sit on a hill overlooking the Knik Valley. The setting is a pure, unspoiled wilderness, but lodgers are hardly roughing it. There’s a gourmet restaurant on site, and you’ll wake up to a piping-hot breakfast, one of this deal’s perks. You can take in the views from your cabin’s private deck or during one of the resort’s helicopter tours or glacier hikes.
- Comfy log cabins: Snuggle up under down duvets and surf complimentary WiFi.
- Dine safari style in a yurt lit by candle lanterns. Chefs craft fresh-caught cedar-plank salmon and goat-cheese salad made with organic, seasonal veggies.
- Dogsledding in summer is among the tours you can set up at the lodge. Other adventures include climbing ice and kayaking on a lake dotted with icebergs.
- Rent a movie from the lodge’s DVD library.
- Three-peat: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence three years in a row
Palmer, Alaska: Alpine Glaciers and Abandoned Gold Mines
Fading red wooden barns from the 1930s dot Palmer’s green hillsides, which give way to jagged mountains. Closer to the Knik River, you can take a helicopter tour for an aerial view of the 3-mile-wide Knik Glacier or take a chartered fishing trip to reel in whopping king salmon. Less than an hour outside Palmer, waterfalls rush over gigantic boulders in Hatcher Pass. It’s a worth the trip here just to see Independence Mine State Historical Park, where you can tour an abandoned gold mine and its surrounding Depression-era buildings.
After a rigorous hike, downtown Palmer is pleasantly pedestrian friendly. Breathtaking mountains loom in the distance at the end of Main Street. Take some time to browse art galleries, sample homemade honey, and hear buskers strumming folk tunes.
Knik River Lodge
Not every hotel keeps an on-site helicopter, but Knik River Lodge has a chopper on deck for flight-seeing tours that show off the surrounding Alaska wilderness. Located about one hour southwest of Anchorage, the inn manages to be both isolated in woods teeming with mountain goats and moose yet convenient to the big city. Likewise, its 15 cabins let guests rough it without sacrificing luxuries such as down duvets on king-size beds, free WiFi, and private decks overlooking the surrounding mountains.
Housed in a yurt, the hotel’s on-site restaurant draws inspiration from African safaris. Candle lanterns provide the ambient lighting, and the menu emphasizes its muscovi duck and beef wellington. As the restaurant gets its produce, meats, and seafood from local sources, the menu also changes based on seasonable ingredients, but the selection of local beers and wines remains a steady staple.
In addition to the helicopter tours, other activities available through Knik River Lodge include bear-viewing and wildlife photography outings. Join an Iditarod musher and his dog team in glacier dog sledding, a distinct Alaskan pastime. Participants dash over snow-covered mountain slopes with plenty of opportunities for taking photos and pointing confused Tour de France bikers in the right direction.