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Go Off the Grid In Alaska, This Summer’s Most Remote Adventure Destination


By Ashley Mateo, Men's Journal

Alaska may just be the most exotic destination we have in the United States, and travelers are wising up to the wild array of adventure opportunities to the north. Visitors to Alaska have increased by 26 percent since 2010, and experts expect that number to keep rising as it celebrates its 60th year of statehood.

5 Great Far North Adventures That (Almost) Anyone Can Do

It helps that getting there, especially from the far-flung east coast, is easier than ever: On July 6, United Airlines is offering a new direct route with daily departures from Newark to Anchorage. The route lasts through September 8, making this summer the perfect time to leave the grind behind and up your stoke factor at one of the super remote properties dotting Alaska’s rugged terrain. Here are six of our favorites.



1

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

A 40-minute float-plane ride from Anchorage, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge—owned by Olympic-gold-medal alpine ski racer Tommy Moe and Alaskan heli-ski pioneer Mike Overcast—is ground zero for big mountain adventure activities. From the luxury base camp (which reopened in February 2019 after a multi-million dollar renovation), tucked on the shores of the Talachulitna River and Judd Lake in the Tordrillo Mountains, guides will fly you out in the wilderness for fat biking, salmon fishing, kayaking, canoeing, white-water rafting, glacier hiking, wake surfing, waterskiing, and wildlife viewing. Every spot is accessible by helicopter only, so privacy is pretty much guaranteed. This summer, the property also debuts Alaska’s first via ferrata (a climbing route with a fixed steel cable) in the state, located right on the edge of the Triumvirate glacier.

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2

Sheldon Chalet

Going off the grid doesn’t get more luxurious than a stay at Sheldon Chalet, a year-old, 10-person property situated on five private acres inside Denali National Park, accessible only via helicopter from Anchorage or Talkeetna. From its position 6,000 feet above the Don Sheldon Amphitheatre on Denali’s Ruth Glacier, it’s a prime spot to kick off wild adventures like expedition-style glacier treks, skiing around the nunatek (i.e. a rocky ridge or peak not covered with ice or snow within an ice field or glacier), sledding on Mount Denali itself, fishing at hidden glacial lakes, dog-sledding, and rappelling into ice crevasses. And there’s no internet or cell service on site, which makes this secluded spot feel even more remote.

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3

Tikchik Narrows Lodge

Three hundred miles from any connecting roads, Tikchik Narrows Lodge sits at the juncture of Tikchik and Nuyukuk Lakes in Bristol Bay with the lofty Kilbuck mountains serving as a picturesque backdrop. The rugged resort is only accessible by seaplane from Dillingham in southwestern Alaska. From its opening in 1969, it’s served as a sport-fishing lodge, but today’s line-up of activities has evolved to include fly-out fishing excursions (the area is known for its five species of salmon and seven species of freshwater fish), boat tours to the snowfields at Mirror Bay, brown bear spotting at the famous Brooks Falls, flight-seeing tours for aerial views over the tundra, and kayak trips to Lake Chiuminuk, hidden inside the 1.6 million-acre Wood-Tikchik State Park.

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4

Winterlake Lodge

Reachable only by ski or float plane depending on the season (it’s 100 miles from the closet road, and a 50-minute flight from Anchorage), Winterlake Lodge takes up 15 acres along the western edge of the Alaska Range, right at mile 198 of the Iditarod Trail. Once an old trapper’s cabin and hunting camp, the lodge has moved away from its roots to promote excursions like trekking the Trimble and the Hayes glaciers, floating down Happy River, rafting overnight, fly-fishing in the Canyon Creek area, paddling Red Creek, scrambling ridgelines, dog-mushing, heli-skiing or -hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The lodge still serves as the Finger Lake checkpoint (named for the finger-shaped, two-mile lake it butts up against) for the annual dogsled race.

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5

Ultima Thule Lodge

Ultima Thule Lodge is so remote it’s beyond the reach of cell coverage and phone lines (it’s name literally means “any distant place located beyond the borders of the known world”). It’s nestled deep in the Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness and getting there takes a six-hour drive from Anchorage to Chitina and a 90-minute flight. From the main lodge, a fleet of two-seater Piper Super Cubs can take you even farther into one of the largest protected land masses on earth to hike and trek on alpine tundra and glacier ice or through boreal rainforests; ski backcountry powder that’s never seen human traffic; climb or ice climb in the notoriously difficult Wrangell Mountains; or navigate the miles-long sandbars of the Chitina River.

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6

Iniakuk Lake

Head into the Far North at Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge, 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the edges of Gates of the Arctic National Park, Kobuk National Park, and Brooks Range. To reach the property, you’ll fly an hour from Fairbanks to the bush community of Bettles, then take a 20-minute float-plane ride to Iniakuk Lake (if that’s not far enough, there are two cabins within the Gates of the Arctic National Park; one requires an additional 20-minute flight and the other—which sits on the Continental Divide—50 minutes). From the solar-powered main lodge, you can partake in caribou safaris, flight-seeing over the Kobuk National Park Sand Dunes or Arrigetch Peaks, fishing for Arctic Char and Sheefish in the Kobuk River; and hiking across the tundra and through the Brooks Range.

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