Winterlake Lodge: About Winterlake Lodge

Located in South-Central Alaskan Wilderness, United States

At milepost 198 on the Iditarod National Historic Trail there was once an old trapper’s cabin where travelers and hunters would stop and stay. In the 1990s, Carl and Kirsten Dixon, an adventure enthusiast and an award-winning chef, came across this breathtaking place at the edge of a sparkling lake, nestled in the embrace of soaring mountains, and decided to transform it into an all-inclusive wilderness lodge that would offer an authentic Alaska backcountry experience.

Getting to this 15-acre gem is part of the enchantment: you fly by floatplane or skiplane over enormous stretches of forests and remote lakes, looking out at ice-glazed peaks and spotting wildlife from high above. If you visit in the summer, soak up the long days exploring glacial pools, rafting, fly fishing wild rivers, scrambling a rugged ridgeline, or taking walks amid the wildflowers. In the winter, experience the northern lights after a day of dog-mushing, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Over the decades, Carl and Kirsten have fine-tuned the Winterlake experience, moving from more typical fishing and bear-viewing excursions to creating a comprehensive and meaningful immersion in the Alaskan backcountry, fueled by adventure—focused on both the grand and the miniscule, and couched in the comforts of home.

Why We Love This Lodge

When the Dixons purchased Winterlake, the lodge was operating as a hunting camp—one of many in Alaska. They took a financial risk by ceasing all hunting, and instead made a commitment to fostering sustainable adventure. In doing so, they became pioneers in their own right, offering an Alaska wilderness experience that has nothing to do with hunting. During the two decades since, bears, moose, beavers, wolves, loons, swans, and river otters have returned to the area in remarkable numbers.

Winterlake Lodge also helps perpetuate Alaskan heritage by serving as the Finger Lake checkpoint for the annual Iditarod dogsled race. The lodge is home to approximately 20 sled dogs, and guests in the winter are invited to attend the lodge's reputable dog-mushing school and participate in a timeless Alaskan tradition.

Highlights

  • Kayak or canoe along peaceful Finger Lake, watching for wildlife and numerous bird species on the shore.
  • Soar in the lodge helicopter to remote spots in the surrounding mountains to flyfish, hike, raft, or ski.
  • Enjoy a book next to the wood-fired stove or take a soak in the rustic cedar hot tub at the end of an active day.
  • Join the action in the lodge's large open kitchen, helping preparing daily meals, nibbling appetizers, and tasting wine.
  • Learn to drive your own team of huskies on the snows of the historic Iditarod Trail in winter.

National Geographic Exclusive

Guests who reserve their space through National Geographic Unique Lodges enjoy the exclusive opportunity to join a guide for an afternoon dedicated to the Iditarod and its history—no matter the season. Take a walk along the trail; learning the history of the race and the pioneers who established the trail; meet the huskies, and watch a dogsled demonstration.

Lodge Features

  • Five wooden cabins with space for extra beds that sleep up to four or six guests
  • Main lodge with an open kitchen, dining room, and cozy sitting area
  • A library of nonfiction and fiction Alaskan classics
  • Daily yoga, cooking classes, and wine tasting, and well as one complimentary massage
  • Kayaks, canoes, and mountain bikes available for guest use
  • A Robinson R44 helicopter that allows access to glacier trekking, skiing, wildlife viewing, river rafting, sport fishing for salmon and rainbow trout, or exploring for gold within minutes of the lodge
  • Wi-Fi in the main lodge

Spotlight on Sustainability

Land stewardship is a major tenet of the Winterlake experience, and the owners and staff espouse it through conservation, environmental consciousness, and rehabilitation. Guests are invited to join conversations about the local ecology, natural resources, and the preservation and historical significance of this area. The lodge's off-grid location requires conservation practices including water and fuel-saving techniques, recycling, and gardening. The lodge’s parent company, Within the Wild, is committed to finding and putting into practice new sustainability efforts annually. For example, Winterlake Lodge is currently rehabilitating a local sockeye salmon spawning stream that has been dammed by beavers.

In addition, the lodge has taken on the task of cleaning up abandoned hunting, fishing, and trapping sites around the area, many of which have been left behind to rust and are often filled with garbage. They have taken out many planeloads of old debris, clearing the landscape of these abandoned camps and their trash.

Awards and Recognitions

National Geographic Traveler, Best Hotels in Western U.S., 2011

Forbes, The World's Most Remote Hotels, 2010

Outside, Best Mancations, 2012

Men's Journal, Trips of a Lifetime and 100 Greatest Adventure lists, 2003

Travel + Leisure, The World's Most Remote Hotels, 2010

USA Today, 10Best, Best Hotels in Anchorage, 2014

Gayot.com, Top Remote Hotels Worldwide, 2012

Food & Wine, America's Wildest Hotels, 2012

Worthly.com, World's Most Remote Luxury Hotels, 2015

PBS, Great Lodges: Adventure Lodges of North America, 2008

Photos from Our Lodge and Travelers

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