Hotel at a Glance: Knik River Lodge
Towering pine trees and snow-capped mountains stand 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 here are hardly roughing it. There’s an onsite gourmet restaurant inside a yurt (select options include a daily dining credit), and the log cabins feature private decks, down duvets, Keurig coffeemakers, and complimentary WiFi.
- Helicopter ride add-on: Select options of this deal include a helicopter ride over the glacial Alaskan landscape, with a landing on Knik Glacier.
- Dine safari style in a yurt lit by candle lanterns. Inside, chefs grill fresh-caught cedar-plank salmon and craft goat-cheese salads made with seasonal organic veggies.
- Dogsledding in summer is among the tours you can set up at the lodge. Other adventures include vertical ice climbing, kayaking on a lake dotted with icebergs, and taking a guided photography tour.
- Rent a movie from the lodge’s DVD library.
- Four-peat: The lodge has earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence four years in a row.
Palmer, Alaska: Alpine Glaciers and Abandoned Gold Mines
Alaska may have America’s most-spectacular scenery, and the area surround Palmer does nothing to dispel that notion. Fading red wooden barns from the 1930s dot Palmer’s green hillsides, which give way to jagged mountains. For a bird’s-eye view of the landscape, take a helicopter tour of the 6-mile-wide Knik Glacier. Another nearby spectacle is Hatcher Pass, less than an hour outside Palmer, where waterfalls rush over gigantic boulders. The pass is worth the trip just to see Independence Mine State Historical Park, where you can tour an abandoned gold mine and its surrounding Depression-era buildings.
While the natural scenery is the star, the town itself can play a complimentary role to any vacation. Downtown Palmer is pleasantly pedestrian friendly. Breathtaking mountains loom in the distance at the end of Main Street, where you can take some time to browse art galleries, sample homemade honey, and hear buskers strumming folk tunes.